Showing posts with label AfPak. Show all posts
Showing posts with label AfPak. Show all posts

25 September 2017

Pakistan's nukes stored at nine different locations, at risk of landing up with terrorists

Today’s Times of India has published a news item on 

There is nothing new in it. I have posted the original paper by Hans M. Kristensen & Robert S. Norris on 18 Sep 2017 in my blog site at http://strategicstudyindia.blogspot.in/2017/09/worldwide-deployments-of-nuclear.html

I have a feeling that these issues are deliberately thrown up whenever Pakistan in cornered. For example the recent example of the statement of our Foreign Minister Mrs Sushma Swaraj in United Nations.

What do your think. 

http://strategicstudyindia.blogspot.in/2017/09/worldwide-deployments-of-nuclear.html

Text of Sushma Swaraj's speech at U.N. General Assembly
Sushma Swaraj addressed the 72nd session of United Nations General Assembly on September 23, 2017.

Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj addressed the 72nd session of United Nations General Assembly on September 23, 2017.

Mr. President

Let me begin by offering my heartiest congratulations on your election as President of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly. For those of us fortunate to represent our nations as Foreign Minister this is a particularly happy event: one of us has this honour.

Mr. President

2: India welcomes your efforts to place people at the heart of international diplomacy as you shape policy and lend direction to world affairs from your august chair. I thank you for the theme you have chosen: ‘Focusing on people: Striving for peace and a decent life on a sustainable planet’. People, peace, decency, sustenance and focus define a noble objective.

Mr. President

3: The United Nations was established for the welfare, security, harmony, rights and economic progress of the people of our world. India fully supports your efforts in this great mission.

4: I had spoken before this Assembly last year as well. It is a year that has seen much change both in this Assembly and in the world it represents. We have a new Secretary General at the United Nations. He is determined to prepare and strengthen the United Nations to meet the challenges of the 21st century. We welcome his efforts, and see in him a leader who can give practical shape to a vision.

19 September 2017

America Could Be in Afghanistan for Another 16 Years

Dave Majumdar

American forces could still be in Afghanistan sixteen years from now—or even generations from now—under the White House’s current strategy of maintaining an open-ended commitment to that war-torn nation.

“I think we will be there in sixteen years,” retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John Allen told an audience at the Center for the National Interest during a lunch-time discussion on Sept. 13. “But I don’t think this is a sixteen-year loss on our part.”

Allen said that American forces in Afghanistan could be “holding the line” indefinitely into the future under President Donald Trump’s new strategy. The United States drew down its forces very quickly during the waning days of the Obama administration, which inevitably led to the current state of affairs in Afghanistan. “President Trump has removed the end date and has given us an end state,” Allen said. “With this president committed to an outcome that is whatever he calls winning...then I think we can hold the line at the security level.”

Holding the line at the security level would allow the Afghans to develop greater capacity in governance and greater capacity in economic development. “If we can get those two going—where we’re holding the line at the security level—and we’ve got a chance,” Allen said. “So we may well be there for another sixteen years, we’ve been in Kosovo for a very long time. We’ve had troops in the Sinai for a generation.”

U.S., NATO still trying to map out Afghanistan strategy

By Thomas Gibbons-Neff

A UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter conducts a medical mission in support of Afghan Commandos in Afghanistan, April 10, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Sara Wakai/ Released)

TIRANA, Albania — Even though President Trump announced his strategy for the war in Afghanistan in August, the Pentagon and NATO are still trying to map their way forward in the nearly 16-year-old conflict, according to U.S. officials.

The delay is the byproduct of the U.S. commander’s vision for the war and the alliance’s ability to provide the troops required to make it a reality, according to a U.S. official who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing deliberations.

In recent weeks, the United States deployed additional forces into Afghanistan — a move that coincided with the announcement of Trump’s strategy — to help bolster Afghan forces during the final months of this year’s fighting season. The immediate surge was a short-term solution, requested by battlefield commanders, but the Pentagon is still assessing how U.S. troops will be deployed in the country in 2018, according to a U.S. official in Afghanistan.

Speaking to a small group of reporters, Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the head of the U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander of Europe, said that he expects to have a “full picture” on NATO commitments by October.

“There is still a lack of clarity which positions, which functions, to focus their contributions,” said Czech Gen. Petr Pavel, chairman of the NATO Military Committee. Speaking at a news conference here, Pavel added that the recently announced U.S. strategy provides a clearer picture of the way forward, but the alliance won’t make final troop decisions until another conference in October.

China Pressuring Pakistan on Terrorism?

By Arushi Kumar

President Donald Trump, in an announcement on the recent overhaul of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, admonished Pakistan for sheltering “the same organizations that try every single day to kill our people” in the fight against the Taliban. Yet analysts have questioned whether Pakistan really needs to heed the United States’ call to “demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order, and to peace,” given the growing warmth of its relationship with China. Despite China being the first to rush to Pakistan’s side and denouncePresident Trump’s remarks, the declaration following the 2017 BRICS Summit held in Xiamen proved to be significant – it marked the first time Beijing agreed to condemn Pakistan-based terror groups like the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), despite repeatedly blocking the United Nations Security Council from listing JeM leader Masood Azhar as a globally-designated terrorist in the last year.

China’s diplomatic support for Pakistan at these critical moments prevented sanctions that could have had negative political and economic ramifications on Islamabad. At the time, India deemed China’s action at the international forum to be a confirmation of the “prevalence of double standards in the fight against terrorism.” So, what has changed? Despite public statements in support of Pakistan, China’s increasing economic stakes and evolving security concerns in the region seem to be forcing Beijing to reorient its internal calculus and tighten its grip over security in Pakistan.

Chinese Interests in Pakistan and Afghanistan

Testing Pakistan’s Conventional Response Below the Nuclear Threshold


By Rameshwar Roy

The Doklam issue stands resolved after a nearly 73-day standoff, at least for the time being. It has been a tremendous battle of nerves and resolve on part of the Indian Army’s to not only intervene in time, but hold on to their positions steadfastly and give adequate time until diplomatic parleys finally found a successful breakthrough. This has once again shifted focus back to India’s traditional adversary - Pakistan.

Time and again, whenever there is a terrorist strike in J&K or elsewhere in the country, there are endless debates in the media, news papers get filled with all kinds of ideas on responses that must be galvanised into powerful actions in order to make Pakistan pay more for its misadventures against India which it routinely denies and stresses the activities as having been carried out by ‘non-state’ actors that they are never aware of. This hide and seek has been going on since the decade of the nineties more proactively, but at large for close to seven decades.

Often enough, there has been a debate on the possibilities of a conventional war under the nuclear threshold. However, it is about time to debate and discuss Pakistan’s threshold of conventional response to India’s trans LoC raids that Delhi should decide to undertake at a time and place of its choosing the moment it is able to trace back its linkages of terrorists striking Indian territory that lead back to the Pakistan establishment or terrorist outfits based inside Pakistan. The latest trend in Pakistan is that these terrorists outfits are in the process of being ‘converted’ into a legitimate political force by forming political parties with stakes in governance making it even more difficult to detect and act against them.

Will jihad kill China-Pakistan Economic Corridor!!!

By RSN Singh

China and Pakistan have signed an Anti-Terror Cooperation Agreement devoted exclusively for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The imperative being increasing threat to the CPEC from jihadi groups. The agreement was signed in Beijing after extensive talks between Meng Jianzhu, head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party Central Committee with his Pakistani counterparts Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif and National Security Advisor, Nasser Khan Janjua. The timing of the visit by this Pakistani delegation assumed importance because it was in the wake of BRICS Summit, wherein Pakistan was indirectly castigated for harbouring terrorist groups and sponsoring terrorism. The agreement in a way reiterates China’s surprise position in BRICS on jihadi terror groups in Pakistan. It appears that these groups have begun to cause anxiety amongst the Chinese authorities with regard to the security of CPEC. It may also be mentioned that Pakistan has already deployed some 15,000 personnel, i.e. 9,000 army and 6,000 para-military, for the security of the CPEC.

All jihadi tanzims are ultimately global jihadi organizations in orientation and treat Pakistan as merely a base.

This anti-terror cooperation agreement exclusively for the CPEC is a tacit admission that many of the jihadi groups operating from Pakistani soil are against the project. All jihadi tanzims are ultimately global jihadi organizations in orientation and treat Pakistan as merely a base. It is the concept and mission of global jihad that the factories of jihad, i.e. Mosques and Madrasas relentlessly purvey,, invoking relevant suras of Quran.

In the Quran, there is no mention of entity called Pakistan. Of course, there is indeed mention of Ghazwa-e-Hind, which prophesizes that the ultimate battle of Islam will be fought in the Indian Subcontinent. So, bereft of any mention in Quran, Pakistan has absolutely no Islamic sanctity in the scheme of global jihad. The jihadis are weaned on the idea of global jihad rather than Pakistan in their indoctrination. The strategic agenda of Pakistani State is only an adjunct of global jihad.

Here's How Private Contractors Can Help Win the Afghan War

September 17, 2017

The president has declared a “path forward” for Afghanistan. Given that the United States is at a nexus for strategic change, might there be an increased role for private contractors in positions previously held by U.S. troops? A proposal from Erik Prince, formerly the head of Blackwater Worldwide, claims that with the use of his “corporate warriors” he can end the war in Afghanistan. Can it work? History suggests that it can. But to be successful, it would require a level of commitment and integration not yet demonstrated. It also relies upon the imperatives of capability, capacity and efficiency, as well as the effectiveness of those chosen to perform the task that the U.S. military has been unable to accomplish: winning the war. First, though, there must be a real understanding of what private security contractors (PSCs) actually do, and how they can and will be held accountable for their actions.

What We Are Doing Is Not Working

As has been evident since the earliest forms of combat, exclusively conducting one method or way of war is rarely effective in the long term. Sustained victory requires an adaptable force that understands and adjusts to changing political, social and economic landscapes. This force does not need to be drawn only from national militaries, or provided by the UN or so-called “coalitions of the willing.” PSCs have been used effectively in the past to stop civil wars and to bring parties to the table in moves toward peace. Successful PSCs understood the physical terrain as well as the human terrain, something Erik Prince claims his warriors know from their years of experience in wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflicts around the world. Where U.S. troops rotate every year to eighteen months, Prince says that if given the chance his forces will be there over the long term, and see the war to its conclusion. He contends that consistency of personnel and experience will make all the difference. In contrast, our current model of rotating soldiers (and leadership: seventeen commanders in sixteen years) through Afghanistan has not worked.

A Baseline for Success

Suspected U.S. drone strike targets militants in Pakistan, regional official says


PARACHINAR/PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - A suspected U.S. drone strike killed three people in the tribal area of Pakistan near the Afghanistan border on Friday, a senior regional official said, in what Afghan Taliban sources say was an attack targeting a Haqqani network militant.

If confirmed, it would be the first U.S. drone strike inside Pakistan since President Donald Trump outlined a new Afghanistan strategy and pushed Islamabad to take greater action against Pakistan-based Haqqani militants who are allied to the Afghan Taliban.

Baseer Khan Wazir, the political agent and the most senior administrator in the Kurram Agency region in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), said the drone strike took place close to the border with Afghanistan.

“Two missiles were dropped on the home of Maulvi Mohib and three people have been killed,” Wazir said.

A spokesman for the U.S.-led international force in Kabul had no immediate information on the report but said he would look into it.

Two Afghan Taliban sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Mohib was affiliated with the Haqqani network.

“He remained associated with the Haqqani network but wasn’t a prominent figure,” said one senior Taliban member.

A second commander confirmed that Mohib was part of the Afghan Taliban: “We don’t differentiate the Haqqani network and Taliban. This is just a propaganda of the western media,” he said.

18 September 2017

Spectacles of terror: From Islamic fundamentalism to the ‘un’holy Jihad

By Anant Mishra

Since 9/11, the global press has exclusively covered all major conflicts, from Syria to Libya, to African Union joint task force against Boko Haram in Africa. Witnessing some of these intense conflicts, we come across many terminologies, frequently used by strategic and security experts, one of most frequently used is “Islamic Fundamentalism”. Islamic Fundamentalism, radical by nature, is violent by decree and poses grave threat to the “peace and security” in the global world today. An ideology which criticises democracy, rule of law, peace and prosperity, first came into limelight during the Taliban rule in Afghanistan. Many religious and political thinkers credit Islamic Fundamentalism as “more dangerous and violent” than communism, with the ability to collapse the global order in the 21st century.

Islamic fundamental radicalistic factions have conducted acts of violence against the “government institutions” using terrorising means such as bombing, kidnapping, assassinations and mass ethnic killings. They not only target government institutions or military installations, but also kidnap foreign tourists, diplomats, members of foreign delegations, journalists, any individual with a “media value” which they can utilise to spread their message.

Today, Islamic Fundamentalism has emerged as a global threat. The traditional “ideological” war between the West and Communism has been replaced with a new “religious” warfare between the West and radical Islamic fundamentalists. 

Will jihad kill China-Pakistan Economic Corridor!!!

By RSN Singh

China and Pakistan have signed an Anti-Terror Cooperation Agreement devoted exclusively for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The imperative being increasing threat to the CPEC from jihadi groups. The agreement was signed in Beijing after extensive talks between Meng Jianzhu, head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party Central Committee with his Pakistani counterparts Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif and National Security Advisor, Nasser Khan Janjua. The timing of the visit by this Pakistani delegation assumed importance because it was in the wake of BRICS Summit, wherein Pakistan was indirectly castigated for harbouring terrorist groups and sponsoring terrorism. The agreement in a way reiterates China’s surprise position in BRICS on jihadi terror groups in Pakistan. It appears that these groups have begun to cause anxiety amongst the Chinese authorities with regard to the security of CPEC. It may also be mentioned that Pakistan has already deployed some 15,000 personnel, i.e. 9,000 army and 6,000 para-military, for the security of the CPEC.

All jihadi tanzims are ultimately global jihadi organizations in orientation and treat Pakistan as merely a base.

This anti-terror cooperation agreement exclusively for the CPEC is a tacit admission that many of the jihadi groups operating from Pakistani soil are against the project. All jihadi tanzims are ultimately global jihadi organizations in orientation and treat Pakistan as merely a base. It is the concept and mission of global jihad that the factories of jihad, i.e. Mosques and Madrasas relentlessly purvey,, invoking relevant suras of Quran.

In the Quran, there is no mention of entity called Pakistan. Of course, there is indeed mention of Ghazwa-e-Hind, which prophesizes that the ultimate battle of Islam will be fought in the Indian Subcontinent. So, bereft of any mention in Quran, Pakistan has absolutely no Islamic sanctity in the scheme of global jihad. The jihadis are weaned on the idea of global jihad rather than Pakistan in their indoctrination. The strategic agenda of Pakistani State is only an adjunct of global jihad.

Is a Paradigm Shift in Pakistan's Regional Policy Possible?

By Umair Jamal

Pakistan needs an alternative vision of the state to implement a new regional security policy. 

U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s new Afghanistan policy, which involves tough actions against Pakistan in case the latter fails to introduce a number of changes to its regional security policy, may have woken Islamabad’s otherwise rather dormant foreign affairs office.

A week ago, Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, announced that Islamabad needed to implement a “paradigm shift” in its foreign policy to tackle growing regional security and economic challenges. Asif, in a whirlwind tour, has visited China, Iran, and Turkey in an effort to shore up support for Islamabad’s stance and role in stabilizing the security situation in Afghanistan after Trump announced his new Afghanistan policy.

Moreover, it appears that Pakistan’s closet ally in the region, China, is also losing patience with the former’s inability and unwillingness to take action against a number of Punjab-based militant groups. It should not come as a surprise that during the recent BRICS summit, China and Russia agreed to name various Pakistan based militant groups as part of their “regional security concern.”

What Trump Left Out of His Afghanistan Strategy: China

By Ankit Panda

Trump’s vision of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan came off as myopic, ignoring a role for other regional powers. 

After months of review and anticipation, U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled his strategy for Afghanistan last month. In doing so, he became the third American president to take ownership of what is now the United States’ longest war.

Trump, while acknowledging that Americans have grown war weary after 16 years in Afghanistan, nevertheless doubled down on a continued U.S. presence in the country. He did not shape his strategy around specific troop numbers or a withdrawal timetable, but instead outlined a far-reaching counterterrorism rationale for a continued American presence in the country.

The new U.S. strategy is perhaps notable for its geopolitical myopia more than anything. In addressing the geopolitical position of Afghanistan and the Asian subcontinent in his speech, Trump reduced the latter to just India and Pakistan. Other regional stakeholders, including Russia, China, Iran and the Central Asian states received no direct mention.

Will Pakistan Part Ways With Its Proxies?

By Daud Khattak

The recent BRICS declaration can be read as a gentle push from China for Pakistan to ditch the Taliban. 

The September 4 declaration made by the heads of the BRICS states after meeting in the Chinese city of Xiamen further raised the level of alarm in Pakistan first spiked by U.S. President Donald Trump’s speech announcing his new Afghan strategy last month.

The declaration, among other things, specifically condemned the Taliban, and a host of other extremist groups — ISIS, Al-Qaeda, the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, TTP and Hizb ut-Tahrir — three of which are said to have links with Pakistan’s security establishment.

While Trump’s August 21 speech invited an angry reaction from the civil and military authorities as well as the public and intelligentsia in Pakistan, the Xiamen declaration was received as a gentle but clear reminder from the country’s so-called all-weather friend, China, along with Russia and three other developing countries that all’s not well with Pakistan’s Taliban policy.

War, Drugs, and Peace: Afghanistan and Myanmar

By Austin Bodetti

As shaky coalition governments in Afghanistan and Myanmar work to establish peace in two countries that have weathered some of Asia’s longest civil wars, journalists have focused on the military and political dynamics influencing potential negotiations but often overlook the insurgencies’ economic implications. The illegal drug trade, to which Afghanistan and Myanmarcontribute most of the world’s opium, has become a lifeline for resistance movements and terrorist organizations from Southeast Asia to the Greater Middle East.

Drug cartels that double as revolutionary movements may prove reluctant to reconcile with governments that would deprive them of their profits from the black market, hindering future peace treaties. The Diplomatcontacted several former special agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the United States’ top counternarcotics security agency, for their thoughts on drugs and conflict.

“The drug trade prolongs conflict and fuels instability in countries with thriving illicit markets,” observed Jeffrey Higgins, a former supervisory special agent. “There’s a correlation between overall lawlessness and illegal drug markets in societies like Afghanistan and Myanmar.”

On the Edge of Afghanistan

BY SUNE ENGEL RASMUSSEN

Of all of Afghanistan’s lawless provinces, Nimruz is perhaps the rawest and most untamed. The desert in southwestern Afghanistan, cornering up against Iran and Pakistan, looks like something out of Mad Max: a post-apocalyptic wasteland where only camel herders and smugglers seem to thrive. Sandstorms kick up without warning, swallowing the horizon in a thick beige mist. Out of the haze, a group of motorcyclists suddenly rides past, their hair stiff with grit and their eyes hidden by goggles.

Nimruz is a microcosm of what has gone wrong in the Afghan war. The province’s lawlessness is a testament to the Western-backed government’s failure to assert authority and curtail rogue strongmen. As Afghanistan’s drug-smuggling hub, it provides a financial artery for the Taliban, who appear stronger than ever. And because of its largely unprotected borders, and complicity from the few forces that actually guard them, it has long been a gateway for the growing number of Afghans who, facing increasing violence and a stagnant economy, have simply lost hope that their motherland can be their home.

Despite the dangers that await — kidnappers, insurgents, corrupt border guards, and some 16,000 square miles of merciless terrain — what lies beyond the wilderness calls to young Afghan men like sirens in the desert.

17 September 2017

Air Forces of Pakistan, China Begin 'Shaheen VI' Exercises

By Ankit Panda

The two countries held the sixth iteration of their major air force exercises, which first began in 2011.

Last week, the Pakistan Air Force and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army-Air Force (PLAAF) began joint training exercises dubbed “Shaheen VI” in China.

The exercises began on Thursday and will run until September 27.

According to Xinhua, China’s state news agency, a spokesperson for the PLAAF noted that China had sent a wide range of aerial assets and troops, including Shenyang J-11 twin-engine multirole fighters, Xian JH-7 fighter-bombers, KJ-200 airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft, and surface-to-air missile crews and radar operators.

Xinhua added that Pakistan had sent an undisclosed number of JF-17 Thunder fighters and its own early warning aircraft—likely Pakistan’s Shaanxi ZDK-03 K. Eagle or Saab 200 Erieye—to the exercises.

The JF-17 Thunder (known also as the FC-1 Xiaolong) single-engine, lightweight, multi-role fighter was co-developed by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and China’s Chengdu Aircraft Industry group. The Pakistan Air Force is the only current operator of the aircraft.

16 September 2017

** America’s Afghanistan Strategy


Pakistan Is the Source of the Stalemate, Not the Scapegoat for It​

"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. " – Sun Tzu

"Afghanistan is a marathon, not a sprint. The surge was a sprint. And America got winded too quickly." – Kael Weston

Late this August, it was encouraging to hear that U.S. policy will not be to quit Afghanistan, not be to fire the commander, and not be to use mercenaries. In Afghanistan, defeat would indeed be worse than persevering with what will now be a modest increase in capacity and an ostensibly genuine regional strategy. Quitting the field would have meant giving up the potential for some form of victory and potentially seeing the Taliban overwhelm the Afghan security forces and the government in Kabul. And, if the Taliban were to revive an Islamist emirate in Afghanistan, there is reason to suggest a future with more attacks against the West, planned and prepared, with increasing scope and intensity, from Afghanistan and from Pakistan’s Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Although detail in the President’s speech was lean, it was reassuring to hear that the U.S. policy is to work with the Coalition and its Afghan partners in pursuit of a winning regional strategy. War without strategy is violence without end and without meaning, so it is a positive sign that the senior U.S. leadership intends to give strategy a chance. Absent thus far, a regional strategy is imperative for success. A measured increase in American and Coalition troops to advise and assist the Afghan security forces was part of the policy mentioned in the speech on August 21st. Though this increase alone will not break the strategic stalemate, it will support the theater commander’s operational design to grow the Afghan special security forces, build the capacity of the Afghan Air Force, and improve all Afghan security forces by employing more advisors with tactical units, where the fighting occurs.

Afghanistan and Pakistan: Feeling the Pain


President Trump has decided to follow the lead of his military advisers in Afghanistan, choosing not to pull out the U.S. troops that candidate Trump had pledged to withdraw. Rather, he’ll send more troops, with the express purpose of training and supporting the Afghan security forces. Also, he emphasized that he won’t engage in nation building. Instead, he will simply defeat the Taliban.

As part of this approach—not all that different from that of his predecessors—Trump plans to eradicate ISIS and other terrorist groups. He will seek greater commitment from India to assist in Afghan economic development and, of course, get tough with Pakistan, a sentiment that has sparked an alarming reaction in Islamabad.

There is a popular argument that there are no good alternatives in Afghanistan, and this may be true. But now, more than ever, the United States must do what it can to support the government of Ashraf Ghani. Just as many have wondered whether the United States has learned critical lessons over the last sixteen years of engagement in Afghanistan, they may also wonder if U.S. leaders might seek to better understand what the country wants and what is possible—especially it those leaders plan to get “tough with Pakistan.”

In 2011, I vividly recall when a member of the National Security Council staff in Washington, frustrated with the apparent duplicity of the Pakistani army, phoned me in Islamabad, which is where I was serving as U.S. ambassador. The staff member asked me to “dial up the pain” on Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Pakistan’s army chief of staff at the time. To many, it may have appeared that Kayani and the Pakistani military richly deserved such pain. But I asked: Isn’t the point of diplomacy and a farsighted policy to try to take action that will lead to a desired result? Methodically, what would even be the sequence of events that would follow once the pain was “dialed up”? It begged the larger question: what did we want from Pakistan and how do we reach our objective in cooperation with the country?

The same questions apply today.

Jihad to the finish in Afghanistan?


The US will hereafter forego foreign adventurism and wars to “rebuild countries in our own image”. But in Afghanistan, American forces, the US President Donald Trump announced, will fight on and finish the job of eliminating the terrorists. He would not make the mistake he said of his predecessor Obama’s of withdrawing the American military prematurely because that will lead to the al-Qaeda and ISIS filling the vacuum as happened in Iraq. Moreover, his strategy he said will be dictated by “the conditions on the ground” not “arbitrary timetables”. This could mean interminable war except, Trump contrarily asserted, that “our commitment [to Afghanistan] is not unlimited, and our support is not a blank check.” The conclusion then is that the US commitment to the Abdul Ghani regime in Kabul is in fact limited.

In the event, should the Taliban be prepared for rapid attrition of its leadership ranks with precision US kills, and manage to wage a sustained drag out fight to wear down the US fighting capabilities, deplete the US Treasury of its wealth, and test Washington’s patience and increase its frustrations with “a war without victory”, they may still end up winning against America as they had done against the Soviet Union in the early 1980s. This is enough of an incentive for the Taliban and assorted Islamic terrorist groups that will now be attracted to its standard, one would assume, to engage in a jihad to the finish against America. Trump has indicated that because “Micromanagement from Washington, DC, does not win [faraway] battles”, the US military commanders will be given a free hand to devise battlefield strategies, hunt down and kill the Taliban, and to call in more forces if necessary to bring the fight to a conclusion. So Afghanistan may soon witness a dizzying pace of US military operations once the build-up is completed and, as reaction, heightened terrorist activity inside Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Inflection point in Kabul The strategic rewards in Afghanistan might be as large as the risks.


India’s current plans to intensify strategic cooperation with Afghanistan could well mark an inflection point in its regional security politics. If its approach to Afghanistan has long been marked by excessive caution, Delhi now seems ready to make bold.

India’s new activism in Afghanistan could turn out to be of a piece with its much acclaimed management of the recent Doklam crisis on the China frontier. Yet, there is no denying India’s manoeuvre in Doklam was essentially defensive. It was about raising the military and political costs for China and deterring Beijing from escalating the confrontation and persuading it to accept a negotiated settlement.

In Afghanistan, Delhi is entering a very different domain. It is now preparing for involvement in a conflict that is once removed from its own borders. The lack of geographic access has always reinforced independent India’s tentativeness in Afghanistan. The NDA government, led by Narendra Modi, seems open to testing the limits of that geographic constraint.

Delhi’s renewed activism comes at a moment when Kabul and its international partners are fighting with their backs to the wall. The Taliban, with its sanctuaries in Pakistan, has gained considerable ground in Afghanistan over the last few years. On the positive side of the ledger, President Donald Trump has certainly reaffirmed US military and political commitment to Afghanistan last month. But many fear that it might be too late to reverse the negative dynamic in Afghanistan.