OMAR BIN KHETAB, NO 2 OF AL-QAEDA IN THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT, KILLED IN AFGHANISTAN

The article originally appeared on India Today on 7 December. 

Omar bin Khetab, the second-in-command of the Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), has been killed in a joint operation by Afghan intelligence and the US military.

Not much information is available about the terrorist – apart from some sketchy details – but the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) called him the seniormost Al Qaeda leader killed in Afghanistan since 2001, when Taliban was driven out of the country.

A NATO release on Khetab’s elimination described him as an expert in heavy weapons and explosives, who trained the Taliban for night attacks.

Also known as Omar Mansoor, Khetab was killed in the Gilan district in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province, the Washington Post reported. He was in his early 40s, and came from the restive tribal regions of Pakistan, the report said.

A 2016 UN report put the AQIS operatives’ count in Afghanistan at 300, and said they mainly came from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives and India. The same report said Khetab handled AQIS operations in the east of Waziristan.

Courtesy: Tolo News

80 more Al Qaeda terrorists were killed along with him, including the top three al-Qaeda leaders in the country. Those who were killed included “Qasim, Hassan Hamza, Jonaid and Mustafa, military head of al-Qaeda, three Punjabi Taliban and two local Taliban fighters”, Tolo News reported quoting the NDS.

Air and military operations were conducted in the past few weeks in Ghazni, Paktia and Zabul provinces of Afghanistan. Details of the operations have not been released yet.

Courtesy: Tolo News

AQIS TRYING TO MAKE PRESENCE FELT IN INDIA

The AQIS has virtually been non-existent so far in India and is trying to make its presence felt in the country. It recently named former Hizbul terrorist Zikar Rashid Bhat – alias Zakir Musa – the chief of its India unit Ansar Ghawzat-Ul-Hind. Before that, in June, AQIS had released a new code of conduct for its members and other terrorists who wanted to show allegiance to Al Qaeda.

In a tape released in August, Al Qaeda chief Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri confirmed that slain Al Qaeda commander Abu Dujana al Pasha was the main driving force behind the formation of AQIS as he “united several jihadi groups belonging to the Indian Subcontinent”.

Abu Dujana al Pasha, who was also known as Abu Dujana al Basha, was the son-in-law of Zawahiri and played a key role in Al Qaeda’s terror operations. Reports say he was known as the “hidden commander” in Al Qaeda, because though he was relatively unknown to the outside world, he worked hard to establish AQIS. The US had declared him a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in 2009.

Zawahiri had announced the formation of the AQIS in a video message in September 2014. Though it was widely reported that al Pasha was killed in a US drone strike, Al Qaeda never accepted it.

©SantoshChaubey

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TRUMP’S JERUSALEM DECLARATION: AL QAEDA, ISIS THREATEN BLOODBATH

Al Qaeda and Islamic State (ISIS) have threatened attacks on US for its decision to shift its Israel Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. While ISIS warning says it is coming to liberate Al-Quds (Arabic for Jerusalem) and will unleash bloodbath, pro Al Qaeda channels appeals Muslims that “demonstrations must be followed by explosions and civil disobedience by military anger killing those of the crusaders we find on our land and destroy the western interests until they stop supporting Israel.”

Yesterday, US President Donald Trump had announced that the US will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and today he made its formal declaration. The decision has created outrage in the Muslim world amid the global concern that it will disturb status-quo in one of the most dangerous conflict theatres of the world where escalating tension may easily give way to a larger war involving many countries. If Israel considers Jerusalem its holiest shrine, the Muslim world also views the historical city as the third holiest shrine of Islam and the Palestinians consider East Jerusalem that houses Al Aqsa mosque as their capital. The terror warnings say the whole of Jerusalem in Palestine’s capital and assert that “O Aqsa, we are coming to liberate you.”

The issue has been so sensitive that almost no country so far had recognized Israel’s sovereign claim over Jerusalem and the global consensus has been that the issue must be resolved through negotiation between Israel and Palestine. Even the previous US presidents recognized it and that is why none of them thought to cross the line even if the US Congress had enacted a law in 1995 to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and had decided to move its Embassy there. The UN has also condemned the Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem through the UN Security Council Resolution 478.

The Trump’s announcement has breached that global consensus. And while he may have been able to fulfil one of his campaign promise with this announcement, there are fears of its immediate aftermath that it will become rallying point for jihadists and terror groups from across the world and these warnings from ISIS and Al Qaeda only confirm it.

Rita Katz, director of the SITE Intel Group, a US based terror monitor agency, has posted the terror threats on her Twitter handle. She says “the jihadists are capitalizing on the possibility of the US moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and warns that the world should expect to see a long, ongoing campaign by jihadists about the move.” While pro ISIS channels have posted warnings and graphics in English, Arabic and Hebrew in line with the ISIS propaganda practices, the Al Qaeda channels are exhorting Muslims to come forward with comments of Osama bin Laden and other leaders on Palestine.

Rita Katz‏ @Rita_Katz
1. Both AQ & ISIS supporters threatening attacks as US prepares to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. One pro-ISIS Telegram channel posted graphics of Aqsa Mosque, warning in Arabic, Hebrew and English: We will cut off your heads and we will liberate Jerusalem from you.”

2. Jihadists are capitalizing on the possibility of the US moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, insisting: “All of al-Quds is the capital of Palestine”, posting threats, graphics, jihadi leadership statements, and documents.

3) Likewise, pro-AQ channels disseminating statements by leaders like slain AQAP leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi, instructing to “kill those of the Crusaders we find on our land, and destroy the Western interests” until they stop supporting Israel.

4) We should expect to see a long, ongoing campaign by jihadists about the move of the US capital in Israel to Jerusalem, including warnings and threats by jihadi leaders, as the matter is a major rallying point within the global jihadi movement across ISIS/AQ lines.

©SantoshChaubey

PAKISTANI PROPAGANDA ACCUSES INDIA OF RUNNING A CELL TO SABOTAGE CPEC

The article originally appeared on India Today. 

Pakistan has long been accusing India of trying to sabotage the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Top Pakistani politicians and army generals have been blaming India for staging attacks in Pakistan through its external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). Obviously, all this has been without proof.

But now the Pakistani propaganda has gone a step ahead by incorporating figures like when India founded this so called anti-CPEC cell and how much fund was allocated to it. General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee of Pakistan, while addressing an event in Islamabad today, charged India of running a cell to disrupt the CPEC.

“RAW established a new cell with a special allocation of over $500 million in 2015 to sabotage CPEC projects in Pakistan,” a Dawn report quoted him saying. While addressing an event in Islamabad, he further said, “India’s indirect interference in Pakistan is manifested in sponsoring Tehreek-i-Taliban-Pakistan (TTP), Baloch and other sub-nationalist outfits and many other terrorist groups.”

Now the world can see through such baseless allegations coming from a country that is seen as a safe haven for terrorists and is increasingly becoming isolated in the world for this very reason, especially when it is against India, the world’s largest democracy, a growing global power, both economically as well as militarily and a responsible geopolitical entity.

It is Pakistan, in fact, that has been giving shelter to India’s and the world’s most wanted like Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Hafiz Saeed, Jaish-e-Mohammed’s Masood Azhar, Dawood Ibrahim and is main terror exporter to India, a fact that major world powers including the US and UK have started accepting. How can the world forget that Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was in hiding in Pakistan for years before he was hunted down and killed? How can Pakistan convince the world that it is not home to the Taliban and Al Qaeda factions and the Haqqani Network?

While the ruling Pakistani elite have been brazenly lying about establishing peace in their country and browbeating their propaganda to the world to tell that they have wiped out every terror outfit, the fact is, this year alone, over 450 civilians and around 200 security forces personnel have lost their lives in over 100 incidents in the country, data from South Asia Terrorism Portal shows.

WHY INDIA IS OPPOSED TO THE CPEC

China’s One Belt One Road initiative aims to de velop economic corridors in Asia, Africa and Europe, something that India is opposed to as one of such corridors, the CPEC. India is opposed to CPEC because a part of it passes through Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir that is legally India’s. For strategic reasons also, India doesn’t welcome a Chinese presence just across the border in a disputed territory that India considers its own.

CPEC, AN INTERNAL SECURITY NIGHTMARE FOR PAKISTAN

Pakistan sees the CPEC, a long term $75 billion project from Gwadar port in Balochistan to Kashgar China’s Xinjiang province, as the next big thing in the nation’s history that will transform it into of hub and economic activity in this part of Asia.

But the fact is, it passes through many restive regions of Pakistan including Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) and Balochistan and terrorists groups that are hostile to China, including TTP and Al Qaeda, have threatened to attack Chinese investments in the corridor to avenge the so-called atrocities against Uygur Muslims in Xinjiang province.

Then there are ethnic people of areas the CPEC passes through who are opposed to it. A combine of religious groups in Gilgit Baltistan has demanded the complete removal of Pakistan’s Army from its soil.

Baloch people, who are fighting the Pakistani establishment for their freedom and have long been accusing Pakistan of exploiting their province, see the CPEC as yet another tool to exploit the Baloch people. Baloch nationalists blame Pakistan for forcefully acceding their province. Pakistani security forces are alleged to have killed thousands of Baloch people. Reports of rape, torture and disappearances are common. Baloch people say they are ethnically different from Pakistanis and are demanding freedom or autonomy to decide their own affairs.

How bad is the security scenario in the CPEC regions also reflects in the fact that Pakistan has raised a Special Security Division (SSD) of 15000 soldiers to protect some 7000 Chinese individuals and CPEC installations that are coming up. This is when the project has just begun. The CPEC was proposed in 2013 and an agreement between Pakistan and China was signed in May 2013.

©SantoshChaubey

US SLAMS RUSSIA FOR DEFENDING SYRIA OVER CHEMICAL ATTACK THAT CLAIMED CIVILIAN LIVES

The article originally appeared on India Today.

The United States has come down heavily on Russia for raising questions over a United Nations report that has blamed Syria’s dictator Bashar al Assad for using chemical weapons to kill innocent civilians.

The United Nations-Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (UN-OPCW) released last week its latest report on the Khan Sheikhun sarin gas attack on April 4, 2017 in Syria which had killed over 100 Syrians including children and women concluding that it was indeed the Assad regime that had released the poisonous gas.

The report by the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), a body of experts formed by the UN Security Council unanimously, said “the panel was confident that the Syrian Arab Republic was responsible for the release of sarin at Khan Sheikhun on 4 April 2017” which was instantly countered by Russia, one of the few allies of the Syrian dictator.

Rejecting the JIM report and the experts behind it, Russia had said the panel of experts had failed to meet the norms of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in case of Syria with serious lapses and an inept investigation concluding that “a thorough reading of the report showed it to hardly be professionally prepared and it was rather amateurish and was generally based on speculations and selective use of facts.”

Slamming the Russian stand, The White House said, “Russia’s attempts to undermine and eliminate the JIM show a callous disregard for the suffering and loss of life caused by the use of chemical weapons and an utter lack of respect for international norms.”

Calling the Russian bluff, The White House said this April attack was the fourth time the JIM confirmed use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime “underscoring the brutal and horrifying barbarism of Bashar al-Assad” and that protecting such a dictator by Russia even more egregious.

Refuting the Russian demands of a new set of rules for chemical weapons investigators in Syria, the US “implored the UN Security Council to renew the mandate of the JIM so that it may continue to identify the perpetrators of these horrific attacks and send a clear message that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated.” Last month Russia had vetoed a proposal in UNSC to extend the JIM’s work in Syria but later on had said that it would soon come up with its motion to set norms for JIM’s extension.

THOUSANDS KILLED IN SYRIAN CHEMICAL ATTACKS

Thousands of Syrians lost their lives in chemical attacks. Though under international pressure, in 2013, Syria signed the Convention on Chemical Weapons that bans production, storage, use and transportation of chemical weapons, it has been alleged that Syria never disclosed its full chemical arsenal for international inspection and destruction.

And these allegations are not baseless. An ABC News report earlier this year, quoting the White House, listed about at least over a dozen chemical attacks in Syria since 2012. These include the chemical attack of August 2013 in Aleppo which killed around 1500 people and left thousands crippled with symptoms of nerve gas attack. There was an international hue and cry but the responsibility could not be affixed.

Also, a BBC report in May this year, based on intelligence documents, said Syria was still making chemical and biological weapons at three sites. The report further said that both Russia and Iran were aware of it. Also, a Human Rights Watch report published the same month said there was evidence of use of nerve gas by Syria in multiple chemical attacks.

After Assad’s chemical attack on April 4 in Idlib city’s Khan Sheikhun, the US had launched a missile attack on a Syrian airbase that was reportedly used to launch the Idlib chemical attack. It was the first direct US military attack on Syria. Syria had then denied its hands and Russia had strongly defended it. On the contrary, it blamed the Syrian rebels for the attack, like it does every time.

ASSAD’S STRENGTH: RUSSIA, CHINA AND IRAN’S SUPPORT

Ignoring the global calls for isolating Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Putin has been standing firm to support him, morally and militarily. Russian fighter jets pounding Syrian rebels and Islamic State bases are a regular occurrence. Almost all major western nations are against al-Assad. If he is standing tall even after that, it is because of Russian support only.

Assad got another big world power in his favour when China, in August 2016, announced to join Russia in providing humanitarian assistance and military training to Syria.

In February 2017, Russia and China vetoed a United Nations Security Council Resolution aimed to impose more sanctions on Syria for using chemical weapons. Then Syria has Iran’s support. Shiite Iran has a religious connect to defend the Syrian government of Alawites, a Shia offshoot, and strategic interests in defeating Syria’s Sunni rebels.

©SantoshChaubey

US HITS BACK, SAYS RUSSIA PROTECTING BASHAR AL ASSAD AND HIS CHEMICAL ATTACKS IS EGREGIOUS

The United States has come down heavily on Russia for raising questions over a United Nations report that has blamed Syria’s dictator Bashar al Assad for using chemical weapons to kill innocent civilians.

The United Nations-Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (UN-OPCW) released last week its latest report on the Khan Sheikhun sarin gas attack on April 4, 2017 in Syria which had killed over 100 Syrians including children and women concluding that it was indeed the Assad regime that had released the poisonous gas.

The report by the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), a body of experts formed by the UN Security Council unanimously, said “the panel was confident that the Syrian Arab Republic was responsible for the release of sarin at Khan Sheikhun on 4 April 2017″ which was instantly countered by Russia, one of the few allies of the Syrian dictator.

Rejecting the JIM report and the experts behind it, Russia had said the panel of experts had failed to meet the norms of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in case of Syria with serious lapses and an inept investigation concluding that “a thorough reading of the report showed it to hardly be professionally prepared and it was rather amateurish and was generally based on speculations and selective use of facts.”

Slamming the Russian stand, The White House today said, “Russia’s attempts to undermine and eliminate the JIM show a callous disregard for the suffering and loss of life caused by the use of chemical weapons and an utter lack of respect for international norms.”

Calling the Russian bluff, The White House said this April attack was the fourth time the JIM confirmed use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime “underscoring the brutal and horrifying barbarism of Bashar al-Assad” and that protecting such a dictator by Russia even more egregious.

Refuting the Russian demands of a new set of rules for chemical weapons investigators in Syria, the US “implored the UN Security Council to renew the mandate of the JIM so that it may continue to identify the perpetrators of these horrific attacks and send a clear message that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated.” Last month Russia had vetoed a proposal in UNSC to extend the JIM’s work in Syria but later on had said that it would soon come up with its motion to set norms for JIM’s extension.

Thousands of Syrians have lost their lives in chemical attacks. Though under international pressure, in 2013, Syria signed the Convention on Chemical Weapons that bans production, storage, use and transportation of chemical weapons, it has been alleged that Syria never disclosed its full chemical arsenal for international inspection and destruction.

And these allegations are not baseless. An ABC News report earlier this year, quoting the White House, listed about at least over a dozen chemical attacks in Syria since 2012. These include the chemical attack of August 2013 in Aleppo which killed around 1500 people and left thousands others crippled with symptoms of nerve gas attack. There was an international hue and cry but the responsibility could not be affixed.

Also, a BBC report in May this year, based on intelligence documents, said Syria was still making chemical and biological weapons at three sites. The report further said that both Russia and Iran were aware of it. Also, a Human Rights Watch report published the same month said there was evidence of use of nerve gas by Syria in multiple chemical attacks.

After Assad’s chemical attack on April 4 in Idlib city’s Khan Sheikhun, the US had launched a missile attack on a Syrian airbase that was reportedly used to launch the Idlib chemical attack. It was the first direct US military attack on Syria. Syria had then denied its hands and Russia had strongly defended it. On the contrary, it blamed the Syrian rebels for the attack, like it does every time.

©SantoshChaubey

US IS BLAMING PAKISTAN TO COVER ITS OWN FAILURES IN AFGHANISTAN: PAKISTAN’S FOREIGN MINISTER

The article originally appeared on India Today. 

The United States policy in Afghanistan is framed by defeated US generals and can never succeed with the baggage of defeat it carries, Pakistan has said blaming the US for singling out Pakistan to cover its own failures in the war ravaged south Asian nation.

“The US generals who faced defeat in Afghanistan in the last 15 years have formed the structure for the policy for this region,” remarked Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif* while speaking on the floor of the country’s senate today, adding that “no objective policy can be formed when it is baggage of defeat” and is bound to fail, a Geo News report said.

The report further quoted Asif saying “when the US holds Pakistan responsible, it, in fact, tries to brush its own defeat under the carpet.” Asif also informed the senate of Pakistan that he told this to the US in unequivocal terms, both during his visit to the US in September and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s Pakistan visit on October 24, first by a senior US government official after US President Donald Trump unveiled his Afghanistan centric South Asia policy on August 21 where he blamed Pakistan for being a safe terror haven and harbouring terrorists who hurt US interests in Afghanistan, especially the Haqqani Network.

During his visit, Tillerson had reminded Pakistan that it needed to eradicate militants and terrorists operating from its soil, something which had seen strong reactions from Khawaja Asif and the Pakistani parliament.

Blaming the US and other international forces fighting in Afghanistan of being inept, Asif then had hit back saying it was indeed the central reason behind the prolonged Afghanistan crisis. He had further added that the “terrorist attacks were not planned on or executed from Pakistani soil and there were no terrorist safe havens in the country,” be it the Haqqani Network or others while its senate chairman had called Tillerson’s remarks unacceptable, “Tillerson’s statement seems like that of a viceroy’s before they visit a country.”

Pakistan has also dismissed the US threats of curtailing economic and military aid. “Pakistan only receives “a trickle” of economic assistance from the US and does not get any military hardware from them and Pakistanis are not like in the past when they were American’s proxy,” Asif recently said in an interview, even if the facts say otherwise. According to a USAID report, the US aid to Pakistan till 2012 stood at $60 Billion. Also, in the last five years alone, since 2011, Pakistan has received some $15 Billion in aid from America, including military and financial assistance.

After US President Donald Trump called Pakistan a treacherous nation and a safe haven for terrorists, engaged in double-dealings, harbouring and protecting the very same terrorists who attack the US interests in Afghanistan, while unveiling his South Asia policy, the US has increasingly been putting more pressure on Pakistan to honour its commitment.

Last month, when Pakistan was patting its back for its so-called brilliant rescue operation to liberate a US-Canadian family who was in Haqqanis’ captivity for five years, the terse response from Trump was, “the Pakistani government’s cooperation is a sign that it is honouring America’s wishes for it to do more to provide security in the region.”

The US has taken measures including cutting military aid to Pakistan and is going to curtail its role in Afghanistan while at the same time is looking for a strategic partnership with India in Afghanistan’s reconstruction process, a cornerstone of Trump’s new Afghanistan policy, even if Pakistan sees an increased Indian presence in Afghanistan inimical to its interests.

©SantoshChaubey

NORTH KOREA: TAKE OUR HYDROGEN BOMB THREAT ‘LITERALLY’

A senior North Korean official has warned that the world should take literally its foreign minister’s warning to detonate a hydrogen bomb over Pacific Ocean. In an interview to CNN, the official, Ri Yong Pil, said the world should not dismiss the North Korean threat as “it has always brought its words into action.”

“The foreign minister is very well aware of the intentions of our supreme leader, so I think you should take his words literally,” CNN quoted Ri Yong Pil saying.

The threat was issued last month by North Korea’s foreign minister Ri Yong Ho during his visit to New York for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Ri’s threat followed vitriolic outburst of his country’s dictator Kim Jong-un who called US President Donald Trump a frightened dog and a mentally deranged dotard after Trump threatened to totally destroy North Korea while delivering his maiden UNGA speech.

While speaking at the UNGA on September 19, Trump had warned that if the United States was forced to defend itself or its allies, it would have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea adding that the Rocket Man was on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. Trump invented the term Rocket Man to describe Kim Jong Un after a series of missile and nuclear tests by North Korea under his watch.

Regular North Korean threats, its repeated missile tests and successful ICBM launch followed by a hydrogen bomb detonation in spite of global sanctions and Donald Trump’s warnings of ‘action on the scale of fire and fury against North Korea’ has pushed the whole world to debate possibilities, ranging from a nuclear war to the Third World War.

Just yesterday, following Kim Jong-un’s declaration that North Korea was a “fully-fledged nuclear power,” the country had issued a warning that it was ready to strike at any moment in its self-defense and the attack would be on an unprecedented scale. Kim Jong-un had written an open letter addressed to different parliaments of the world to make his proclamation warning the world that “it would be a big miscalculation and an expression of ignorance if US President Donald Trump thought that he would bring North Korea, a nuclear power, to its knees through nuclear war threat.”

Reports have emerged that US has put its nuclear bombers on 24-hour alert to meet any emergency, a first since the Cold War days. Trump revealed in a Fox News interview recently, “You would be shocked to see how totally prepared we are if we need to be.”

On September 3, North Korea had detonated a hydrogen bomb in its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date and Pyongyang had warned of more ‘gift packages’ for Washington which came true when it test fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan on September 15.

©SantoshChaubey

WE ARE NOT SUPPORTING TERROR ORGANISATION HAQQANI NETWORK: PAKISTAN REFUTES US’ ALLEGATION

The article originally appeared on India Today.

After US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reminded Pakistan that it needed to eradicate militants and terrorists operating from its soil, Pakistan has hit back saying there are no safe havens in the country and also that they are not supporting or protecting the Haqqani Network, one of the most dreaded terror groups of Afghanistan which the US alleges operates from Pakistan.

“Terrorist attacks are not planned on or executed from Pakistani soil, there are no terrorist safe havens in Pakistan,” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said in a Geo News interview. Asif also said that “Pakistan made it clear to the US delegation that it is not protecting or supporting the Haqqani network.”

Tillerson, who is on Middle-East and South Asia tour and is in Delhi today with scheduled meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, was in Pakistan yesterday after his unscheduled Afghanistan stopover on October 23 where he had reiterated the US government stand that Pakistan must rein in the terror groups operating from its soil.

Pakistan’s parliament also lashed at Tillerson’s comment. The Chairman of Pakistan’s Senate, Raza Rabbani, called Tillerson’s remarks unacceptable. “Tillerson’s statement seems like that of a viceroy’s before they visit a country,” an acerbic Rabbani fumed.

Asif also blamed US and international forces for their “ineptitude” that he believed was responsible for prolonging the Afghanistan crisis and dismissed the US threats of curtailing economic and military aid. “Pakistan only receives “a trickle” of economic assistance from the US and does not get any military hardware from them and Pakistanis are not like in the past when they were American’s proxy,” Asif told the BBC News.

After US President Donald Trump called Pakistan a treacherous nation and a safe haven for terrorists, engaged in double-dealings, harbouring and protecting the very same terrorists who attack the US interests in Afghanistan, while unveiling his South Asia policy, the US has increasingly been putting more pressure on Pakistan to honour its commitment.

A fortnight ago, when Pakistan was patting its back for its so-called brilliant rescue operation to liberate a US-Canadian family who was in Haqqanis’ captivity for five years, the terse response from Trump was, “the Pakistani government’s cooperation is a sign that it is honouring America’s wishes for it to do more to provide security in the region.”

The US has taken measures including cutting military aid to Pakistan and is going to curtail its role in Afghanistan while at the same time is looking for a strategic partnership with India in Afghanistan’s reconstruction process, a cornerstone of Trump’s new Afghanistan policy, even if Pakistan sees an increased Indian presence in Afghanistan inimical to its interests.

©SantoshChaubey

NORTH KOREA WARNS OF ‘STRIKE BEYOND IMAGINATION ANY MOMENT’, SAYS US CAN’T SAVE PUPPET SOUTH KOREA

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Following Kim Jong-un’s declaration that North Korea is a “fully-fledged nuclear power”, the country has now warned that it may strike at any moment in its self-defense and the attack would be on an unprecedented scale.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop earlier in the day said she had received a letter from the North Korean dictator, addressed to different countries, which said, “It will be a big miscalculation and an expression of ignorance if US President Donald Trump thinks that he would bring North Korea, a nuclear power, to its knees through nuclear war threat.”

Blaming US and its president for pushing the world towards the Third World War by his foolish acts, a KCNA released said Trump is being seen as a ‘dangerous element’, has aroused worldwide derision and even his key confidants are dumping him.

“As the aggressors and provokers have become all the more undisguised in their hysteric war frenzy, the DPRK’s appropriate actions for self-defense will be taken any moment as a strike beyond imagination,” the KCNA release announced.

Targeting the joint US-South Korea naval drills, North Korea said its repeated tough offensives had put US in despair and horror dealing a heavy blow to the world’s only superpower and the US could no longer help the South Korean puppet forces.

“The South Korean puppet forces should clearly understand that already in hand are the toughest countermeasure of Korean style to cope with the US’ reckless military act,” the KCNA release further said. The war of words between US and North Korea has seen regular war rhetoric but its intensity has really gone up after North Korea’s successful nuclear capable ICBM test and hydrogen bomb detonation.

What has irked the Trump administration even more that North Korea did all this despite a clear warning that US would never allow the country to have an ICBM or a hydrogen bomb.

Reports have emerged that US has put its nuclear bombers on 24-hour alert to meet any emergency, a first since the Cold War days. Trump revealed in a Fox News interview yesterday, “You would be shocked to see how totally prepared we are if we need to be.”

©SantoshChaubey

TERROR AS PAKISTAN’S STATE POLICY

Pakistan started harbouring terror and using it as state policy to further its regional aspirations, notably to wield influence in Afghanistan and to destabilise India and fuel unrest in Kashmir.

And now these terror elements have become so ingrained in the ruling establishments of Pakistan, its military and the civilian government that Pakistan doesn’t want to or can’t think of getting rid of them.

America’s strategic concerns and Pakistan’s geographic advantage made it a strategic US ally, first to contain the rise of the USSR in Afghanistan and then to other parts of the Middle-East and Asia or to tame transnational terrorism that began spreading its tentacles from 90s from Islamic countries or America’s war against terror post 9/11 the epicentre of which was again Afghanistan.

And Pakistan reaped its benefit while backstabbing America, especially in the post 9/11 period.

The very forces that conspired and attack America’s power in September 2001, Al Qaeda and Taliban, got sanctuaries in Pakistan after the US military action uprooted them from Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden, the Al-Qaeda chief, was in fact killed in Pakistan and it is believed that it was due to collusion of the Pakistani establishment that he had been able to hide in Pakistan for years.

A USAID report puts US aid to Pakistan till 2012 at $60 Billion while in last five years alone, since 2011, Pakistan has received $15 Billion in aid from America.

But Laden’s location and his killing in Pakistan started changing things. The seed of mistrust was sown when the US didn’t inform Pakistan that it had located Laden in Pakistani army’s backyard and would eliminate him singlehandedly by breaching the Pakistani airspace.

And it further grew with increasing Haqqani Network attacks in the US. Haqqani Network is an Afghan terror group that operates from Pakistan and has carried our several attacks on the US interests in Afghanistan. The deadly attack on Indian Embassy in Kabul that killed 58 was also carried out by the Haqqani Network.

To continue….

©SantoshChaubey