PEEVED AT TRUMP’S PRO INDIA BENT, CHINESE MEDIA DEFENDS PAKISTAN AND BATS FOR A GREATER CHINESE ROLE IN AFGHANISTAN

Will the US turn Afghanistan into a geopolitical bridgehead in Central Asia or work with China to build peace there?

That is a question posed by an editorial in China’s state-run publication Global Times. The editorial believes that the Afghanistan policy revamp by US President Donald Trump is a step in wrong direction.

Presenting the case for greater Chinese involvement in Afghanistan and defending Pakistan whom Trump again called a safe haven for terrorists and a duplicitous nation, the editorial says that “the US needs to enhance cooperation with China and improve ties with Pakistan to stabilize the Afghanistan situation.”

Reeking of the usual arrogance of Chinese media that threatens India with war every other day in the ongoing Doklam standoff, the editorial argues that it will be stupid on the part of the US “to abandon Pakistan and particularly short-sighted to get too close to India and drift away from Pakistan.” Pushing the Pakistani case further, it says that the US needs to respect and consider Pakistan’s interests and difficulties, and not push the latter too hard on anti-terrorism issues.

Under his government’s Afghanistan Policy, Trump has announced several departures from his established stand to withdraw the US from the war-torn South Asian nation. His emphasis is on increasing the number of US troops in Afghanistan and giving the forces free hand to handle insurgents and not micro-managing then from the Washington. And he clearly said that developing a strategic partnership with India was a critical part of US’ strategy for South Asia.

At the same time, he came down heavily on Pakistan and warned that the US would no longer be silent about Pakistan’s double-dealings and pressed that it had to change immediately. How frustrated the US is with Pakistan becomes clear with Trump’s remarks that “the US has been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that US is fighting.”

Now China is batting for that Pakistan and it tells how hollow these Chinese claims are, either in this boastful editorial about Chinese importance in Afghanistan when it has almost negligible presence there or the response of the China’s Foreign Ministry earlier which defended Pakistan saying the international community should recognize Pakistan’s efforts against terrorism.

Continuing its verbal tirade against the US, which banned some Chinese companies and individuals yesterday for their North Koreans links, the editorial says that there is nothing new in Trump’s Afghanistan policy and it ignores the complicated situation in Pakistan which cannot be handled by a single power.

The editorial accepts that the US doesn’t trust China enough but goes on to say that the US and China share common interests in Afghanistan and proposes that “Afghanistan could become a bridge for the two to expand their cooperation.” While the new US policy sees a clear strategic shift towards India, Afghanistan’s trusted partner in its reconstruction, Global Times finds no initiative on international cooperation and new thinking in Trump’s vision which it believes dangles between the approaches taken by Barack Obama and George W Bush and is aimed at maintaining the status quo.

That line of argument is in stark contrast to what Trump thinks. While detailing the policy in an address to the nation, Trump said, “One way or another, these problems will be solved – I’m a problem solver – and, in the end, we will win.” According to Trump and his aides, lengthy deliberations went into formulating the strategy after which Trump reached to a conclusion that the US could not leave Afghanistan in a state that would make it a breeding ground for terror outfits quoting the example of Iraq where a US withdrawal saw emergence of the Islamic State.

Now if the editorial calls that Afghan policy of the US aimless, it is nothing but driven by its vested interests and anti-India streak. China doesn’t want a US military base in Afghanistan. And China doesn’t want an increased strategic presence of India in Afghanistan that can provide it a vital base overlooking China and deeper access to energy rich Central Asia and Iran.

©SantoshChaubey

TALIBAN DISMISSES US POLICY CHANGE, SAYS WILL TURN AFGHANISTAN INTO GRAVEYARD FOR AMERICAN TROOPS

The article originally appeared on India Today on August 22.

The Taliban has dismissed the US policy change on Afghanistan saying it was nothing news and has dared the world’s only superpower that it will turn Afghanistan into a graveyard for the US troops.

“If America doesn´t withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, soon Afghanistan will become another graveyard for this superpower in the 21st century”, an AFP report said quoting Zabiullah Mujahid, an Afghan Taliban spokesperson.

US President Donald Trump, in his much awaited Afghanistan policy review, made a clear departure from his earlier stand that US had to withdraw from Afghanistan. He, in fact, said that after deliberations he had reached to a conclusion that the US could not leave Afghanistan in a state that would make it a breeding ground for terror outfits quoting the Iraq example where a US withdrawal seen emergence of the Islamic State.

Showing a conviction to increase number of US troops in Afghanistan and giving them a free hand in their ground operations, Trump said, “One way or another, these problems will be solved — I’m a problem solver — and, in the end, we will win.”

Reacting on it, the Taliban spokesperson said there was nothing new in the speech and Trump was just wasting American soldiers. “As long as there is one US soldier in our land, and they continue to impose war on us, we, with a high morale will continue our jihad”, he added.

The US launched war in Afghanistan in 2001 to overthrow the Taliban government there after the 9/11 attacks which was planned by Al Qaeda in Afghanistan under the Taliban protection. But what began as an operation to overthrow a government has become the longest foreign war in the US history, now in its 16th years, and has cost the US hundreds of billions of dollars with around 2400 dead US soldiers and over 20,000 injured.

Afghanistan has been witnessing terror resurgence. Last year, the US and NATO commander in Afghanistan General John F. Campbell had described the Haqqani Network as the most capable threat to the US and coalition forces. Also, Taliban is seeing a new surge. According to different analyses, it now controls 10 per cent of the Afghan territory and 30 per cent of its people.

©SantoshChaubey

WHY THE US POLICY CHANGE ON AFGHANISTAN MATTERS FOR INDIA

The article originally appeared on India Today on August 22.

As expected, US President Donald Trump has called for a greater Indian role in Afghanistan. During his address to the nation on US’ Afghanistan policy review, during which Trump made several departures from his established stand to withdraw the US from the war-torn South Asian nation like increasing the number of US troops there and giving the forces free hand to handle insurgents and not micro-managing then from the Washington, he clearly said that developing a strategic partnership with India was a critical part of US’ South Asia strategy.

His policy statement that the “India, the world’s largest democracy is a key security and economic partner of the US and it appreciates India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan and wants India to help the US more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development” is an extension to a last month report by the powerful US Senate Armed Services Committee report that advocated a trilateral arrangement between India, Afghanistan and the US. “The committee believes that the US needs to recommit to the fight in Afghanistan and that India, as a major defence partner of the US and a contributor to regional security, has a critical role to play in this effort”, the report said.

In fact, a greater Indian role in Afghanistan where it is already playing a big part in its reconstruction, will not only give India strategic advantage over its traditional rivals like Pakistan and China, but would also mean greater access to the oil and mineral rich Central Asian nations and opportunity for its industry to gain a larger share in the whole Afghanistan rebuilding business.

And this is coupled with the fact that the US review on Afghanistan has been extremely harsh on Pakistan with Trump describing Pakistan again as safe haven for terror groups. He warned that the US will no longer remain silent about it and pressed that it had to change immediately. Now that has huge implications for an increased Indian role in Afghanistan as it has been primarily Pakistan’s objection, a US ally in war on terror, that sees India’s rise in Afghanistan inimical to its interests. How frustrated the US is with Pakistan’s double-dealings becomes clear once again with Trump’s remarks that “the US has been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that US is fighting.”

INDIA’S GATEWAY TO CENTRAL ASIA

In July 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a historic visit of five Central Asian nations, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan and the main objective was ensuring India’s future energy security. For India, Afghanistan is the gateway to Central Asia and a stable Afghanistan with greater access will go a long way in fulfilling India’s objective.

GREATER LEVERAGE IN DEALING WITH TERROR GROUPS

A wider presence in Afghanistan will give India greater leverage in dealing with the terror groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State which are trying to establish their Indian footprint. There groups are currently using restive regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan as their gateway opportunity to the Indian Subcontinent.

OPPORTUNITY FOR INDIAN INDUSTRY IN AFGHANISTAN’S RECONSTRUCTION

India has played an important role in Afghanistan’s reconstruction in post Taliban era spending around $2 Billion since 2002 on development projects including its parliament building and committed another $1 Billion last year. The Indian aid basically has been in infrastructure development, health services and military equipments like bullet proof jackets and convoy vehicles. But breaking the tradition of not giving lethal military equipments in aid, it gave Afghanistan four attack helicopters last year and is also training its soldiers.

Now with the US policy change, seeking an enhanced Indian role, coupled with the fact it seeks to limit the Pakistan’s presence there, Indian companies have an opportunity to invest more in Afghanistan, especially when the US wants to win the war on terror, its longest foreign war that is on for the past 16 years, at any cost. A drastic change in the US policy to crack down on Afghan terrorists with a free hand to security forces can effectively take care of the terror menace. How big the opportunity is can be gauged from the fact that the US has spent over $100 Billion of Afghanistan reconstruction yet it is just far from producing any tangible outcome and now that Trump has made it clear that there will be no more ‘blank check’ from the US, the door is wide open.

Also, Afghanistan in future can emerge as a big push for Make in India initiative for India’s nascent defence industry as the country would need a sustained military supply to handle not only its internal terror threats but also to secure its contentious borders with Pakistan, a terror exporter that has been destabilizing Afghanistan for the past four decades.

KEEPING PAKISTANI AND CHINESE DESIGNS IN CHECK

If Pakistan has used Afghanistan as its junkyard to push terrorists there to maintain its hegemony and export them to India at the same time, China, too, has been trying to increase its influence there owing to Afghanistan’s geographical advantage but so far has failed. A stable Afghanistan, which is fiercely against Pakistan, can in fact give India strategic advantage by providing a valuable military base in future, overlooking both Pakistan and China. It is important for India as reports indicate that China is going to establish its military base in Pakistan, most probably at the Gwadar port in India’s backyard.

©SantoshChaubey

GLOBAL OUTRAGE FORCES CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS TO SAY NO TO CHINESE PRESSURE

After global outrage, the Cambridge University Press (CUP) has reversed its decision to bow to the Chinese censorship pressure. On August 18, the news came that following a Chinese diktat, the prestigious publisher had blocked 315 articles in China that the China’s ruling elite considered inimical to their interests. The articles were published over many years in its academic journal The China Quarterly and covered issues like China’s Cultural Revolution, Tiananmen protests and so on.

According to the CUP release, the decision to block the content was a temporary one and was reluctantly taken and after the University level review, the CUP as well as the University of Cambridge decided to reinstate the blocked article with immediate effect.

“Therefore, while this temporary decision was taken in order to protect short-term access in China to the vast majority of the Press’s journal articles, the University’s academic leadership and the Press have agreed to reinstate the blocked content, with immediate effect, so as to uphold the principle of academic freedom on which the University’s work is founded”, the Washington Post wrote quoting the CUP release.

The said articles in question were on issues which the ruling Chinese Communist Party treat as taboo and does all in its capacity to obliterate them from public access – Tiananmen, Cultural Revolution, Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, a email from Tim Pringle, The China Quarterly’s editor read.

The Chinese ruling elite had threatened to block CUP website in China if it didn’t comply with its demands. According to Tim Pringle, it was not the first Chinese demand. Before this, the Chinese had come with a similar diktat to block content of over a thousand e-books, a report in Quartz said.

After the news came to light, the CUP did try to clear its position by issuing a statement where it said that “it will not change the nature of its publishing to make content acceptable in China and was troubled by the recent increase in requests of this nature.”

“We complied with the initial request to remove individual articles to ensure that other academic and educational materials we publish remain available to researchers and educators in this market”, the statement further said in a clear indication that the CUP had started feeling heat of its decision to bowing to the Chinese pressure and was seriously considering alternatives.

The step by the CUP to block articles on Chinese demand had drawn global condemnation and. It was derided as a shameful decision. A petition on Change.org signed by academics and intellectuals on Monday demanded a resolute stand before the Chinese pressure or else the CUP may face a global boycott of its publications by academics, The Guardian reported. Even some in the Chinese intelligentsia also criticised the decision, “I’m left with the feeling that there is absolutely no escape since every single breath on Earth belongs to the king”, The Guardian wrote quoting Chinese novelist Li Jingrui.

©SantoshChaubey

SO MUCH SO FOR CHINESE RESTRAINT, INDIA CHINA BORDER STANDOFF SPILLS OVER IN AUSTRALIA

Some days ago, in a boastful article, China’s hawkish state publication Global Times had claimed that “contrary to India’s nationalistic fomenting, Chinese public was largely calm over border tension” between India and China on Doklam Plateau.

What to say then on these vituperative remarks by Chinese people, “Anyone who offends China will be killed no matter how far the target is”, “Borderline is our baseline” and “China: Not even a bit can be left behind”?

And that too, in a faraway land, almost 9000 Kms from Beijing, in Sydney, Australia, so much so for the so-called Chinese restraint.

According to a report in The Australian, these slogans were carried by Chinese people in a rally in Sydney on August 15 to protest the Indian stand in the Doklam standoff. The Chinese used a convoy of luxury cars covered in Chinese flags and anti-India slogans.

Close on the heels of this, another controversy erupted in the University of Sydney where an Indian origin professor Khimji Vaghjiani used a map during the course of one of his lectures that showed India in control of territory on the Indo-China border, especially Aksai Chin.

The Chinese youth, whom the Chinese media portray as uber cool folks who have shown “no extreme reaction directly related to the standoff targeting India”, lost their temper on such a trivial issue even if the professor clarified his situation for using the map.

“Over 18 months ago, I used an out-of-date map, downloaded from the internet, when discussing characteristics of IT entrepreneurs around the world, however I was unaware that the map was inaccurate and out-of-date. This was a genuine mistake and I regret any offence this may have caused”, The Australian quoted him saying.

Now that is what we call a calm attitude and a gentleman’s reaction, unlike Chinese people or Chinese state media or Chinese government, who have been threatening India of war and dire consequences every other day, ever since the Doklam standoff began in June.

The Australian example once again shows how Chinese scramble to catch up every opportunity to target India. The otherwise calm Chinese youngsters posted articles on different platforms demanding removal of an innocuous map that showed India’s claims on its territory in forceful Chinese occupation, Aksai Chin and parts of Ladakh. After all, what else can be expected from them who threaten to kill anyone who offends China.

©SantoshChaubey

WHY AFGHANISTAN MATTERS FOR INDIA

KEEPING PAKISTANI DESIGNS IN CHECK

PAKISTAN CONSIDERS AFGHANISTAN ITS BACKYARD

HAS TRADITIONALLY USED THE COUNTRY TO PUSH FOREIGN TERRORISTS IN JAMMU & KASHMIR WITH PAKISTAN SPONSORED TALIBAN GOVERNMENT THERE TILL DECEMBER 2001

NIPPING IN BUD A POTENTIAL FRONT FOR THE CHINESE THREAT

A STRATEGIC DEFENCE PARTNERSHIP MAY PROVIDE INDIA WITH A DEEP PRESENCE ENCIRCLING CHINA AND PAKISTAN

INDIA WILL HAVE GREATER LEVERAGE IN DEALING WITH TERROR GROUPS LIKE ISIS AND AL QAEDA THAT ARE TRYING TO ESTABLISH THEIR INDIAN FOOTPRINT

THESE GROUPS ARE CURRENTLY USING RESTIVE REGIONS OF PAKISTAN AND AFGHANISTAN AS THEIR GATEWAY OPPORTUNITY TO THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT

INDIA’S GATEWAY TO RESOURCE RICH CENTRAL ASIA, ESPECIALLY AFTER PRIME MINISTER’S FOCUS ON CENTRAL ASIAN NATIONS FOR INDIA’S ENERGY SECURITY NEEDS

MAJOR OPPORTUNITY FOR INDIAN INDUSTRY IN AFGHANISTAN’S RECONSTRUCTION

AFGHANISTAN OF FUTURE MAY BE A BIG PUSH FOR THE MAKE IN INDIA INITIATIVE OF INDIA’S DEFENCE INDUSTRY

©SantoshChaubey

DONALD TRUMP’S AFGHANISTAN POLICY REVIEW TODAY. WILL US PICK A LARGER ROLE FOR INDIA?

The article originally appeared on India Today.

According to the White House, US President Donald Trump is holding his much awaited South Asia strategy review focused on Afghanistan today at his country retreat Camp David in Maryland. In attendance will be US Vice-President Mike Pence, US National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and the US National Security Team.

The inter agency exercise aimed at redrawing US’ Afghanistan strategy includes inputs from the US State and Defence departments. An earlier plan by US Defence Secretary James Mattis and H.R. McMaster to increase the number of US troops in Afghanistan was rejected by Trump.

The plan sought to send around 5000 more US troops to the South Asian nation. The US has currently 9000 troops stationed in Afghanistan in its longest war in history that began in 2001. Reportedly, Trump has conveyed to his lieutenants that the US is not winning in Afghanistan and he might go for a radical revamp of the US policy there.

THE AIM OF THE INTER AGENCY EXERCISE

The exercise is also aimed at incorporating regional perspective to the whole Afghan issue. To explore the possibilities, the Trump administration had sent its top diplomat Alice Wells, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs and Acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, earlier this month to India and Pakistan.

India also hosted other senior US State Department, Pentagon and US Security Council officials including Lisa Curtis and Cara Abercrombie during an event organized the MEA and a think tank.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S PRO-INDIA BENT

Given the Trump administration’s pro-India bent, India may emerge as an instrumental player in Afghanistan with US policy change and it happens so, it will certainly be a humiliating setback for Pakistan which sees India’s increasing influence in Afghanistan inimical to its interests and has linked peace efforts in Kabul to Kashmir something that India has completely ruled out. What also goes against Pakistan is the fact that it doesn’t hold good relations with Afghanistan’s ruling establishment and is fast losing its credibility in Washington as well.

That India is on the US radar become clear from the fact that the all powerful US Senate Armed Services Committee has strongly advocated for a strong Indian role in Afghanistan. “The committee believes that the US needs to recommit to the fight in Afghanistan and that India, as a major defence partner of the US and a contributor to regional security, has a critical role to play in this effort”, the committee report last month.

Also, the review meeting is going to be held in the backdrop of pro India and anti Pakistan developments in the US. Trump called Prime Minister Narendra Modi to wish India on its Independence Day while he didn’t extend the courtesy to Pakistan, its so-called ally in the war on terror.

SALAHUDDIN A GLOBAL TERRORIST, HIZBUL A TERRORIST OUTFIT

Then the US first termed Syed Salahuddin a global terrorist in June and then declared his ISI supported organization Hizbul Mujahideen a terrorist outfit. Pakistani propaganda calls them freedom fighters and has termed the US action completely unjustified. Before it, the US pressure had forced Pakistan to house arrest Hafiz Saeed in January this year. And to compound Pakistan’s problems, its latest Country Report on Terrorism has called Pakistan a haven for India-centric terrorists.

Also, the US has made a part of its military assistance to Pakistan conditional to its handling of Afghan terror groups including the Haqqani Faction and it withheld the amount for this year and the last year, over $600 million, as Pakistan could not convince the US of its action against the Haqqani Faction.

INDIA, A TRUSTED FRIEND OF AFGHANISTAN

India has been a trusted friend of Afghanistan for decades and shares cultural ties with it. The Pentagon defines India as Afghanistan’s most reliable regional partner.

India has played an important role in Afghanistan’s reconstruction in post Taliban era spending around $2 Billion since 2002 on development projects including its parliament building and committed another $1 Billion last year. The Indian aid basically has been in infrastructure development, health services and military equipments like bullet proof jackets and convoy vehicles. But breaking the tradition of not giving lethal military equipments in aid, it gave Afghanistan four attack helicopters last year and is also training its soldiers.

©SantoshChaubey

LARGER ROLE FOR INDIA IN AFGHANISTAN EXPECTED IN DONALD TRUMP’S SOUTH ASIA REVIEW TODAY

US President Donald Trump is going to hold his South Asia review at his country retreat Camp David today. In attendance will be US Vice-President Mike Pence, US National Security Advisor HR McMaster and the US National Security Team.

The US South Asia strategy review basically revolves around Afghanistan and given the increasing voices in the US to take a regional approach and the Trump administration’s pro-India bent, India is expected to become an instrumental player in Afghanistan, much to the chagrin on Pakistan which see India’s increasing influence in Afghanistan inimical to its interests.

That India is on the US radar become clear from the fact that the all powerful US Senate Armed Services Committee, headed by influential lawmaker John McCain, has strongly advocated for a strong Indian role in Afghanistan. “The committee believes that the US needs to recommit to the fight in Afghanistan and that India, as a major defence partner of the US and a contributor to regional security, has a critical role to play in this effort”, the committee report last month said realizing India’s role in Afghanistan’s future, “The committee believes that timely actions by the Indian government to fill identified needs in Afghanistan would significantly benefit the short and long-term security and stability of the region.”

Also, the review meeting is going to be held in the backdrop of pro India and anti Pakistan developments in the US. Trump called Prime Minister Narendra Modi to wish India on its Independence Day while he didn’t extend the courtesy to Pakistan, its so-called ally in the war on terror.

Then the US first termed Syed Salahuddin a global terrorist in June and then declared his ISI supported organization Hizbul Mujahideen a terrorist outfit yesterday. Before it, the US pressure had already forced Pakistan to house arrest Hafiz Saeed in January this year. And to compound Pakistan’s problems, its latest Country Report on Terrorism has called Pakistan a haven for India-centric terrorists whom Pakistan patronizes as freedom fighters of Kashmir.

India has been a trusted friend of Afghanistan for decades and shares cultural ties with its South Asian neighbour. It has played an important role in Afghanistan’s reconstruction in post Taliban era spending around $2 Billion since 2002 on development projects in Afghanistan including its parliament building and committed another $1 Billion last year. The Indian aid basically has been in infrastructure development, health services and military equipments like bullet proof jackets and convoy vehicles. It is also training Afghan soldiers.

India, as a policy, did not provide lethal weaponry to countries facing internal unrest but with Afghanistan, that policy is changing now. Last year India gave four MI25 attack helicopters to Afghanistan and a positive US decision on India’s increased role in Afghanistan can see increased flow of all sorts of Indian military aid to the country, especially when Afghanistan has been seeking support for long.

We go by the report of the committee, the US, in fact, is envisaging a fairly comprehensive strategic role for India in Afghanistan. It talks of trilateral cooperation between India, the US and Afghanistan saying, “This assistance could include logistical support; joint training; combined military planning; threat analysis; intelligence, materiel, and maintenance support for Afghan National Defense and Security Forces for humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, security assistance, and any other areas deemed appropriate.”

Apart from India’s humanitarian role in Afghanistan and its strengthening ties with the US, what can also work in India’s favour is the fact that the US is miffed with Pakistan’s double-dealings.

The world knows Pakistan is the main sponsor of terror in Afghanistan. The US has made a part of its military assistance to Pakistan conditional to its handling of Afghan terror groups including the Haqqani Faction and it withheld the amount for this year and the last year, over $600 million, as it found Pakistan’s claims dubious.

Pakistan’s situation in the US has seen a new low with the inauguration of the Trump Administration. The US has always questioned Pakistan’s dubious role in its war against terror and Al Qaeda and the voices that say that Pakistan be made accountable for billions of US dollars that it receives in US assistance in the name of being a US ally in the war against terror have taken the centre-stage of the US policymaking now.

We can say the inflection point in US-Pakistan ties was US locating Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and deciding to eliminate him without involving Pakistan. That showed how deep was the US distrust of Pakistan. But Pakistan continued double-dealing the US even after that, taking US money to fight terrorists while, at the same time, letting them run amok in Afghanistan.

So much so that the US and NATO commander in Afghanistan General John F. Campbell had described the Haqqani Faction as the most capable threat to the US and coalition forces. Also, Taliban is seeing a new surge. According to different analyses, it now controls 10 per cent of the Afghan territory and 30 per cent of its people. Taliban surge is good for Pakistan’s interests in Afghanistan but the US would never allow Taliban to run over Afghanistan again after spending 17 years fighting Taliban and other terror forces of the country.

©SantoshChaubey

PAKISTAN: US DECISION DESIGNATING HIZBUL MUJAHIDEEN A TERRORIST GROUP UNJUSTIFIABLE

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Pakistan has termed the US decision designating Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) a Foreign Terrorist Organization unjustifiable. According to Radio Pakistan, Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said Pakistan was disappointed with the US decision and he blamed India for it.

Continuing the Pakistan’s anti-propaganda on Kashmir, which is an integral part of India and a part of which is in Pakistan’s forceful occupation, Zakaria said India was in forceful occupation of Kashmir and reiterated the worn out line that “Pakistan would continue its moral, diplomatic and political support to Kashmiri people’s struggle for their just right of self determination.”

After declaring HM chief Syed Salahuddin a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) in June, the US has now proscribed his group as well. Salahuddin also heads the United Jihad Council, the umbrella outfit of terror groups operating in Kashmir.

“The Department of State has designated Hizbul Mujahideen as a Foreign Terrorist Organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under section 1(b) of Executive Order (E.O.) 13224. These designations seek to deny HM the resources it needs to carry out terrorist attacks”, a US State Department release yesterday said.

Pakistan had reacted in the same expected manner when the US had designation Syed Salahuddin a global terrorist in June coinciding with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s US visit and his first Summit with US President Donald Trump. It Foreign Office had released a statement which called the US decision on Syed Salahuddin ‘completely unjustified’.

HM is the largest terror outfit in Jammu and Kashmir. It was formed in September 1989 as Jamaat-e-Islami’s militant wing by Ahsan Dar at Pakistan’s ISI’s commands. Salahuddin was appointed its patron in 1990 and later became its chief. HM is based out of Pak-occupied-Kashmir’s Muzaffarabad and according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, its current cadre strength is around 1500.

©SantoshChaubey

AFTER SYED SALAHUDDIN, NOW HIS OUTFIT PROSCRIBED, THE US IS FINALLY COMING OUT OF ITS ‘GOOD AND BAD TERRORISTS’ MINDSET

After declaring Syed Salahuddin, the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) chief, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in June, the US has now proscribed his group as well. Salahuddin also heads the United Jihad Council, the umbrella outfit of terror groups operating in Kashmir.

“The Department of State has designated Hizbul Mujahideen as a Foreign Terrorist Organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under section 1(b) of Executive Order (E.O.) 13224. These designations seek to deny HM the resources it needs to carry out terrorist attacks”, a US State Department release said.

Unlike earlier, some of the recent moves by the US have been targeted against terrorists and organizations perpetrating terror in India, be it Hafiz Saeed or Salahuddin or now HM and they suggest a clear mindset change.

GOOD AND BAD TERROR

The US State Department had declared Pakistan a safe haven for terrorists five years ago, a historical study of its annual authoritative Country Report on Terrorism says. The annual report for 2012 that came out in 2013 for the first time used the term “safe haven” for Pakistan for letting terrorist groups thrive and operate from its soil.

The 2013 Country Report on Terrorism (for terror activities in the year 2012) used the line “a number of these attacks were planned and launched from these groups’ safe haven in Pakistan.” ‘These groups’ here mean “the Afghan Taliban, HQN (the Haqqani Network) and other AQ-affiliated groups” which continued to wreak havoc in Afghanistan.

From next year onwards, i.e., 2014 Country Report on Terrorism (for terror activities in the year 2013), the US chose to generalize about Afghanistan centric terror emanating from Pakistan by removing ‘these groups’ and adding ‘and other insurgent and terrorist groups’. It meant the US found many more terror outfits operating from Pakistan to perpetrate terror against US and Afghan forces in Afghanistan and it was not just limited to the terror triad of Afghan Taliban, HQN and the AQ-affiliated groups.

So, first few lines of the second paragraph of Chapter 2 of the Country Report on Terrorism (on South and Central Asia) every year would be, “Afghanistan, in particular, continued to experience aggressive and coordinated attacks by the Afghan Taliban, including the affiliated Haqqani Network (HQN) and other insurgent and terrorist groups. A number of these attacks were planned and launched from safe havens in Pakistan.”

We can see the focus of the report about describing Pakistan a safe haven for terrorists all these years have been basically about Afghanistan. But the latest report goes a step ahead in adding the much required dimension to it, i.e., recognizing Pakistan’s complicity in sponsoring terror in India.

India has long been complaining to the US on its double standards on terror emanating from Pakistan rightly arguing that it cannot differentiate between a good terrorist from a bad terrorist. All the US censure, all tough words to Pakistan have been about cracking down on the terror outfits that have shifted their base to Pakistan but continue to target Afghanistan, the US forces and interests there and the Afghanistan’s government.

The civil war, in fact, never ended in Afghanistan. The warring factions were previously centralized within Afghanistan with Taliban being the last ruling faction. Now Pakistan has become the main base for Taliban and other such groups who want to overthrow the process of democratic transition in Afghanistan. And from Pakistan, they continue to run amok in Afghanistan. How serious is situation can be gauged from the fact that even Afghanistan’s most secure area, Kabul’s diplomatic enclave that also houses the seat of its government, is not safe from terror strikes. It has seen multiple attacks.

For Pak based groups perpetrating terror in India, the US brief had not gone beyond the routine lines like ‘Pakistan should expedite the Mumbai or Pathankot terror probes’. The US continued with billions of dollars in aid even if it knew that Pakistan was harbouring terrorists who were India’s most wanted. What made it a theatre of absurd was the fact that even if many of these terrorists like Hafiz Saeed were carrying a heft US bounty on their heads, they were free to roam in Pakistan like respected citizens.

That, seems, is changing now. First, the US pressure left Pakistan with no other option but to house arrest Hafiz Saeed in January this year. Though symbolic, it suggested that the US had started putting pressure on Pakistan. It also told us that the US was coming out of its “good and bad terrorists” mindset. In June, Pakistan had to ban the new front of Hafiz Saeed’s terror outfit, Tehreek-e-Azadi-Jammu & Kashmir (TAJK).

Then in June only, the US declared Syed Salahuddin, the terror lord of Pak based umbrella groups for perpetrating terror in Jammu and Kashmir, a global terrorist.

PAKISTAN A SAFE HAVEN FOR INDIA CENTRIC TERROR GROUPS

Then in July, the world’s only superpower termed Pakistan a safe haven for India centric terror groups.

The Country Report on Terrorism 2017 (for the year 2016) says, “The Pakistan government supported political reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban, but failed to take significant action to constrain the ability of the Afghan Taliban and HQN to operate from Pakistan-based safe havens and threaten U.S. and Afghan forces in Afghanistan.”

And then goes on to do the course-correction that was long overdue by writing specifically against the major India centric terror groups like LeT and JeM and holding Pakistan accountable for not doing enough, “The government did not take any significant action against LeT or JeM, other than implementing an ongoing ban against media coverage of their activities. LeT and JeM continued to hold rallies, raise money, recruit, and train in Pakistan.”

©SantoshChaubey