Pakistan enjoys good ties with China, Russia, ME countries: Sartaj

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs has rejected as mere propaganda the impression that Pakistan is facing international isolation.

In an interview with BBC Radio, he said Pakistan is standing at a right place in new international grouping.

Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan has very good relations with China, Russia, and Middle Eastern countries.

About Kashmir dispute, he said the issue is to be resolved by the Kashmiris themselves, as no one can suppress those who are sacrificing their lives for freedom.

To a question, Sartaj Aziz said the United States is changing its policy in order to check increasing influence of China in the world; and as India fits more in that policy; therefore, Washington and New Delhi are coming closer.

However, the Foreign Affairs Adviser said Pakistan wants to have cordial relations with the United States side by side China and other countries.

About US Secretary of State John Kerry’s statements in New Delhi, he said if he had been in Pakistan, his statements would have been different. Sartaj Aziz categorically said that Pakistan has carried out operations against all terrorists, including Haqqani Network, during Operation Zarb-e Azb.


Talks underway for delegating powers to Rangers in Punjab: DG ISPR

RAWALPINDI:  Director-General ISPR Lt. General Asim Saleem Bajwa has said talks are underway with reference to delegating  powers to Rangers in Punjab.

Briefing newsmen here on Thursday, he said attempts by Daesh to organize itself in Pakistan have been foiled and 309 including 25 foreigners of Afghan, Syrian and Iraqi nationalities have been arrested.

He said people linked with Daesh had plans to target important personalities belonging to different walks of life and state symbols.

Giving update on achievements of operation Zarb-e-Azb, he said 3500 terrorists have so far been killed and 992 hide outs destroyed. He said 900 terrorists have been killed in Khyber operation.

He said 537 personnel of armed forces were martyred and 2272 others injured.

The Director-General ISPR said Pakistan incurred staggering losses in men and material in the war against terror and therefore, no one should doubt Pakistan’s intention to fight the menace.

He said 21383 intelligence based operations have been carried out in the entire country during which 222 terrorists were killed and 31400 arrests made. There have been 168 combing operations leading to 744 arrests.

He said there has been a marked improvement in security and law and order situation due to operation Zarb-e-Azb.

About Karachi operation, he said visible reduction has been witnessed in target killings, extortions and kidnapping for ransom. He said 447 target killers were eliminated during the operation.

Asim Bajwa said proper gates would be installed at 18 major crossing points between Pakistan and Afghanistan as part of border management. Staff of immigration and other relevant departments would be posted there to ensure that no one crosses the border without valid documents.

The Director-General ISPR said Pakistan is establishing border posts and deploying FC personnel to keep a check on cross border movement but the Afghan side is not fulfilling its commitment in this regard.

He said an Infrastructure Development Plan has been prepared for terrorism affected areas. Under this, 705 kilometers of roads in North and South Waziristan have been constructed to serve as new trade corridor between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

He said 66% TDPs have also returned to their areas against the target of completion of the task by the year end.

He said certain actions would be taken against MQM in coming days. Some actions have been taken. Slogans against Pakistan are not acceptable in any way, he added. Government is taking action in this regard. The man who has given statements  against Pakistan is citizen of UK. Slogan against Pakistan was raised by a foreign citizen  which is not acceptable at any cost.

Opposition forges ‘rare’ unity over Panama-specific sit-in

LAHORE: All 2014 dharna (sit-in) players have again marshaled their troops to give one ‘last try’ to pressure Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to step down this time on the issue of Panama Leaks. With one difference: they have the protest expert on their side.

Last time in 2014 they were demanding Prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation over alleged rigging in 2013 polls. However, this time these players – Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Dr Tahirul Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), Chaudhry Shujaat’s Pakistan Mulsim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and Sheikh Rashid’s Awami Muslim League (AML) – have not set the premier’s resignation their ‘ultimate target’.

PTI, which is the main player among the other alliance parties, declares it will be happy if an ‘independent’ judicial commission is formed that starts its probe from Nawaz Sharif for his children’s off-shore holdings revealed in Panama Papers in the wake of its Lahore’ big’ show on Saturday (tomorrow).

PM’s resignation not ultimate target; PTI is content with judicial probe

This time the four-party (PTI, PAT, PML-Q and AML) alliance also gets the support of the PPP as its chief Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has given a go-ahead to its party men in Lahore to participate in the rally being held to press Mr Sharif to resign over Panamagate. It is also the first time the PTI and PPP are joining hands together against a ‘common cause’.

“This time Nawaz Sharif will not get away from investigation into assets he and his family members have collected abroad illegally. Panamagate will forever haunt the premier. He will have to answer. He has lost moral ground to rule and it is time he should better step down and let an independent judicial commission probe the whole affair of Pananama Leaks,” PTI Secretary General Jehangir Tareen said on Thursday.

Mr Tareen said if the PML-N thought that the issue of Panama Leaks would die down with time, it was seriously mistaken. “This is a series of protest rallies by the opposition. Saturday’s Lahore rally will be very significant putting immense pressure on the premier to either resign or form a judicial commission,” he said, adding the resignation of Mr Sharif as the target of these rallies. But, we are quite optimistic that he will succumb to the pressure and resign eventually.”

To a question about march on the Sharifs’ residence of Jati Umra in Lahore, Jehangir Tareen said: “One day will march on the Jati Umra Raiwind (if our legitimate demands are not met on Panamagate).”

On the other hand on the direction of Mr Bhutto-Zardari, former Punjab president of PPP Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo held a meeting with workers here on Thursday to make preparation for Saturday’s PTI-led rally.

“The party chairman has asked me and PPP Secretary-General Sardar Latif Khosa to lead a party delegation in the Lahore rally which is aimed at pressing the prime minister to form a judicial commission to probe the Panamagate,” Mr Wattoo told Media. “It will not be easy for the premier to ignore the protest of strong opposition over Panamagate therefore he has only one choice – accept the opposition ToR and present himself for accountability – otherwise with every passing day pressure on him to resign will mount,” Wattoo said.

Replying to a question as why the PPP chose this time to side with Imran Khan, Mr Wattoo said: “During 2014 sit-in it was widely perceived that there was a threat to democracy. On this ground we had turned down PTI’s request to join the sit-in. Now it is essential for democracy that those at the helm of the affairs should not be corrupt. The ruling elite including Nawaz Sharif must present themselves for accountability as their corruption has completely been exposed.”

The PML-Q leadership that is considered close to the establishment on Thursday held a meeting with party men and directed them to fully participate in the Saturday rally to make it a ‘successful show’ . “We are going to play an active role in the prevailing circumstances as all opposition parties are united over Panama Leaks,” Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi said.

Ruling PML-N says the opposition alliance’s ‘Saturday show’ will not be impressive as it especially the PTI is fast losing public support because of its protest politics. “The PTI and other opposition parties will fail this time too like that of 2014,” PML-N Lahore President MNA Pervaiz Malik told media.

He said the PTI instead of taking to streets should better show its strength in election. “PML-N yesterday won both by-polls in Jhelum and Vehrai showing its popularity graph. People will not allow it (opposition) to do politics on Panama Papers,” Mr Malik said.

MQM condemns Altaf’s ‘incendiary’ speech in NA

ISLAMABAD: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) approached the National Assembly Secretariat on Friday to condemn its own founder Altaf Hussain’s vitriolic “anti-Pakistan” speech and the attack on media houses by MQM activists.

“This House condemns in strongest terms the raising of anti-Pakistan slogans and the incendiary and controversial speech of MQM founder Altaf Hussain from London and the subsequent attack on media houses in particular the ARY network,” says the resolution signed by 22 MQM leaders.

“This House condemns every type of crime, violence, terrorism and anti-Pakistan slogans and activities,” it further said.

Speaking to the press after submitting the resolution, MQM leader Farooq Sattar termed Altaf’s Aug 22 anti-Pakistan speech “suicidal” and said the party in Pakistan had made a huge sacrifice by distancing itself from party chief Altaf Hussain in its “decisions and policies”.

He lambasted Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) chief Mustafa Kamal’s ‘confusing’ earlier statements. On one hand, Kamal says MQM is still collaborating with the London offices and Altaf Hussain, Sattar said, “But on the other hand, he’s saying I’m scared and afraid to sleep in my own home.”

“We are saying we are totally cut off [from the London offices]… If he is going to make such accusations, then the agencies should help him. If our WhatsApp, FaceTime and phone calls are being monitored, please show the PSP whether we are in touch with them. If we are not, then they should confront them (PSP),” Sattar said.

A copy of the resolution submitted by the MQM. ─ DawnNews
A copy of the resolution submitted by the MQM.

The American world

By: Shahzad Chaudhry

The US runs the world, politically and militarily through its six geographical unified commands. One each for North America and South America, Northcom and Southcom, are located in the continental US (Conus).

Another, called the Central Command (Centcom), responsible for all countries of Asia – excluding India and Turkey, but including all of the Middle East and Central Asia excluding China – is also located in Conus. Northcom operates from Colorado, while Southcom and Centcom operate out of Florida. Centcom retains a forward Headquarters in Qatar too.

Centcom is well known to the Pakistanis since the Centcom commander is a frequent visitor to Islamabad. Pakistan gets counted in the Centcom Area Of Responsibility (AOR), but not India. Doha is the hub of all diplomatic activity for Afghan issues and houses the only formal Afghan Taliban diplomatic mission in the world; conveniently collocated with Centcom’s forward HQs.

There are three other regional commands: Eucom located in Germany, Africom responsible for all matters related to Africa and Pacom (Pacific Command) – perhaps the most potent of them all for its combustibility and the strategic context in all aspects of American interests; strategic, economic, military and political. This is where the declared American focus lies for the next century. It includes everything that lies in the Pacific and contiguous to it in Asia including India and China. It operates out of Hawaii.

Each geographical command is headed by a four-star general who reports directly to the president of the US; not to a service chief. These generals or admirals are responsible, on behalf of the president, for all military matters of interest to the US and most political matters that pertain to those interests.

These six circles of influence form the foundation of the US strategy to govern its interests. These do not intersect at any point, especially in the American eye and there are clean divisions in terms of their characteristics, nature of strategic and politico-economic determinants, and hence clearly define American objectives within the respective spheres. To them each is a different entity with a different set of issues and thus a varying level of American investment.

For example, the Asia-Pacific is the primary focus of the US. China too is aggressive in the region to safeguard its interests while the US has a permanent presence in East and the South-East Pacific in South Korea, Taiwan and Japan. It has basing and other agreements with almost all other states including Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia. Singapore and Malaysia also sit on the mouth of the Malacca Straits where the American presence is almost perpetual. This is the choke point for all shipping and trade from the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea and onwards to China and the rim states of East Asia.

The US has helped knit Asean as an alliance of the South East Asian nations that serve as its base for political and economic influence. As a Pacific rim state the US recently reinforced its presence through another Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement which will keep the politics of those 12 nations in the alliance in line with their mutually serving economic interests.

India is in the Pacom circle of influence. And the US would surely like India to augment the US effort to dominate the Indian Ocean access to the South China Sea spread from the Bay of Bengal to the Malacca Straits. The Kerry-Swaraj joint communiqué delineates India’s role in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Through investment that India has made into its navy and other seaborne capability it is obvious that India wishes to challenge China’s increasing domination of the India Ocean.

So when the US signs the Logistics Exchange Memorandum Of Agreement (LEMOA), it actually knits India into its strategic sphere where both nations can per the agreement permit free berthing and logistics support to transiting vessels. Aircraft and military material could be based through for temporary or transitory deployments. Usually nations ask for money for such facilitation but after this agreement these will become mutually available on need basis.

India has had to give up on its foundational non-aligned philosophy in agreeing to join an international alliance. John Kerry was in Delhi to sweeten the deal by inking the sale of the six nuclear reactors to India to sustain its own civil-nuclear industry back home as well as to enable a further step towards the sharing of defence technology. Were India to agree to purchasing American military equipment they will then sign the Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA).

This is the bedrock of all enablers for the US to sell technology to India but in return it shall hold the most vital control of all electronic and avionic software source codes for which India will be perpetually dependent on the US to even make the slightest modification to its own warfare suites. For this reason alone, India has dithered from signing and ratifying the CISMOA. When that happens India will truly be in the US’s lap; far from the credence of its founding fathers.

Where is Pakistan in all this? Pakistan exists in the US’s adjacent circle of Centcom and each has a different purpose to the US. In the Centcom circle, oil, gas, Islamic extremism and terrorism, and the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Syria are the focus. Pakistan is relevant and critical to the US for Afghanistan and the fight against terror, and in rectifying the fault-lines in Islam that give rise to phenomena like Al Qaeda and Daesh. These are entirely different kinds of challenges.

Hence, to the US, there is absolutely no contradiction of policy when it engages India on a different plane from Pakistan. Both serve different purposes quite independent of each other.

How will India want Pakistan to assess it? Surely as a diplomatic coup where the US was squarely in their corner with all offers and all diplomatic niceties coming India’s way. India is a bigger country, has a more eminent emerging role and will therefore serve the US in a far more crucial area of concern. Afghanistan is a fading issue, long imbued in fatigue and mission creep now. It is natural for the US to give more eminence to the Indian relationship.

We need to be clear about what is important to us and how it feeds into our national objective. Where interests converge like in Afghanistan and against terror the US will be seen to be falling back on Pakistan regardless of what goes on in Delhi. We just need to know the American world better.

The writer is a retired air-vice marshal, former ambassador and a security and political analyst.