UN Report sheds light on the extent of Drug Trafficking via Pakistan

Posted by Admin On Wednesday, 27 June 2012 0 comments
At the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 2012, Pakistan may be free of poppy cultivation, but the country still provides a vital transit route for smuggling of...

At the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 2012, Pakistan may be free of poppy cultivation, but the country still provides a vital transit route for smuggling of drugs worth $30 billion from neighbouring Afghanistan.
Speaking at the launch of the World Drug Report 2012 on Tuesday, officials from the United Nations welcomed the decline in poppy cultivation in Pakistan. In the same breath, however, they added that the country is a major route for the smuggling of drugs cultivated in Afghanistan, primarily through Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, and that drug cultivation can resurface in these areas if the Anti-Narcotics Force is not strict in its surveillance.
One-third of drugs produced in Afghanistan are smuggled to other countries via the coastal areas of Balochistan, the UN officials added.
Global numbers
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released the annual report about the state of drug cultivation, production, usage and transport in New York on Tuesday.
According to the report, at least 5% of the world’s adult population, or about 230 million people, are estimated to have used an illicit drug at least once in 2010. Some $68 billion is generated globally from illicit drugs annually, and is mainly used in terrorist activities, human trafficking and the smuggling of arms.
According to the UNODC, $27 to $30 billion worth of drugs are smuggled from Afghanistan, via Pakistan, to other parts of the world annually; of this, drugs worth $1.5 billion stay in Pakistan.
Drug abuse and illicit trafficking continue to have a profoundly negative impact on development and stability across the world, the report says. Heroin, cocaine and other drugs continue to kill around 200,000 people a year, bringing misery to thousands of other peoples, insecurity and the spread of HIV, the report adds.
Drug cultivation
Global opium production amounted at 7,000 tonnes in 2011, up from the low levels of 2010 when diseases wiped out almost half of the crop yield.
Afghanistan maintained its position as the largest producer and the country’s opium production increased by 61%, from 3,600 toms in 2010 to 5,800 tonnes in 2011.
High prices and increase in demand are making opium production more attractive to farmers in South East Asia, the report says.
Poppy cultivation in South East Asia jumped 16% – from 41,000 hectares in 2010 to almost 48,000 hectares in 2011. Overall cultivation of opium doubled in South East Asia.
Illicit drugs and related criminal networks undermine the rule of law, the report says.
Central America, for instance, faces rising levels of violence fuelled by transnational organised crime and drug trafficking. The region is now home to the highest homicide rates in the world.
Meanwhile, development in Afghanistan is being hindered by the highest rates of opiate prevalence in the world. In parts of Myanmar, farmers are trapped by food insecurity compelling them to grow poppies as a cash crop.
The challenge is also greatly testing West and Central Africa, which lies along one of the main drug trafficking routes to Europe.
Moreover, transit countries are no longer simply links in the chain of supply. About half of the cocaine trafficked through West and Central Africa now remains in the region.
The drug, crime and corruption conventions of the UN form a solid basis for global solutions to these challenges, the report states, adding that these instruments offer a balanced approach to halt trafficking, promote viable alternatives to the farmers of cash crops, and offer drug users their health and human rights.

US on a ‘Strategic Partnership’ Spree

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It is a sign of their strengthening relationship that the India-U.S. dialogue now includes discussion of problems outside South Asia The June 13 U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue left some commentators in...

It is a sign of their strengthening relationship that the India-U.S. dialogue now includes discussion of problems outside South Asia
The June 13 U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue left some commentators in both countries complaining that there was less to it than met the eye. We disagree: it seems to us to have finally — almost by stealth — begun shifting the U.S.-India conversation toward something that deserves the name “strategic,” centred on policy consultations on the world beyond South Asia.
Huge agenda
Both governments emphasised the breadth of the binational dialogue. In the week before the ministerial meeting, the United States government hosted six other bilateral events on health, women’s issues, education, science and technology cooperation, cyber-security, and counter-terrorism. The full list (23 dialogues!) includes some important items, better funded than in the past — but tends to produce glazed eyeballs even among hardened policy wonks.
The stage was set for this year’s discussions, however, by two actions that had nothing to do with the actual meetings: the U.S. waiver of potential sanctions on India’s oil trade with Iran, and the memorandum between Nuclear Power Corporation of India, Ltd. (NPCIL) and Westinghouse committing both sides to work towards early works agreements on things like preliminary licensing and site development, aiming at an eventual nuclear power plant in Gujarat. Neither of these actions eliminates a problem. Secretary Clinton’s Iran waiver authority can only be exercised for 180 days at a time. India’s nuclear liability regime remains a serious problem for U.S. companies wanting to build power plants in India, and it is not yet clear that their concerns have been met. But both provide a sense of progress and temporary relief from a serious irritant. Both governments showed they were serious about their relationship.
Strategic start
The strategic significance of this year’s encounter lies elsewhere — in the increasingly serious consultation the two governments have undertaken on issues beyond India’s immediate neighbourhood. The first two topics for such exchanges were Indian Ocean security, probably the most important foundation stone for India-U.S. security ties, and East Asia, which the two sides have been discussing with considerable sophistication for the past two years. The joint statement referred to an “open, balanced, and inclusive architecture” for Asia, and expressed U.S. and Indian support for regional forums that include India, China, Southeast Asia, and the United States. Translation: neither side contemplates a quasi-alliance to “contain” Beijing, but both will remain engaged together throughout the Asia Pacific region.
These were low-hanging fruit, where the overlap between U.S. and Indian strategic interests was apparent to both sides. In the past year, these have been supplemented by discussions on Afghanistan, West Asia, and Central Asia. In Afghanistan, the U.S. has long welcomed India’s economic role, but now also looks on a carefully calibrated Indian security role as a stabilising factor. Both countries recognise that as the U.S. gets closer to its planned withdrawal of combat troops, it will be essential to deal both with Pakistan’s relationships inside Afghanistan and with its extreme anxiety about Indian intentions there. This will complicate the way the U.S. and India deal with each other on Afghan affairs. But having defined important common goals, they should be able to surface any disagreements, hopefully before they become important obstacles.
Still missing
These are serious steps toward a relationship that deserves the name “strategic.” They do not, at least at this stage, represent the development of joint policies by India and the U.S., but they are candidates for what one might call parallel policies, where India and the United States may be able to proceed independently in ways that reinforce one another. This is a good way to try out selective partnership, the only kind of partnership realistically open to India and the U.S.
If this partnership is to grow and flower, the strategic discussions need to extend to subjects on which the two countries have more serious disagreements. The top candidate is Iran, where they need to embark on a longer-range discussion about how different contingencies in Iran would affect the region and the world. This could be uncomfortable, but candid discussion is essential for two countries whose vital interests are so powerfully involved.
A more difficult candidate for bilateral candour is Pakistan, where India and the U.S. have some interests in common and others that differ. Pakistan’s high suspicions of both will be aggravated by any suggestion that they are colluding on Pakistan policy. Finding the right formula for a systematic discussion will require unusual delicacy.
Economic relationship
The economic conversation needs a different kind of help. Bilateral trade in goods and services has now topped $100 million, and a substantial economic relationship has helped to keep both governments engaged even at times when speed bumps threatened the relationship. But a long list of issues on both countries’ economic agendas never seems to go away, as Minister Krishna acknowledged in a speech to a business group the day before the dialogue. For the U.S., these include India’s restrictions on foreign investment, intellectual property and, more recently, India’s apparent move away from its international tax treaties. For India, the hardy perennials involve primarily visa issues. The two governments need to bite the bullet and settle some of these issues.
Finally, both governments need to find ways of keeping their leaders directly involved. India and the U.S. both consider themselves unique countries, and expect exceptional treatment from their friends. This makes them peculiarly vulnerable to disappointment when either government is preoccupied by an election, another international crisis, or a domestic political challenge, as has happened to both governments with distressing frequency in the past year or so.
The standard technique for shoring up high level attention is using “action-forcing events” like visits and meetings to force decisions on stalled issues and focus leaders’ attention on a relationship that is important but not in crisis. This is how the U.S. has made many of its important decisions on U.S.-India relations in the past couple of years. It works, but it leaves champions of the relationship frustrated much of the time. The good news, however, is that despite our leaders’ distraction and the frustration of their advisers, strategic convergence is gradually being worked into both countries’ policies.
(Teresita and Howard Schaffer are former U.S. ambassadors, with long years of service in South Asia. They are co-founders of southasiahand.comHoward Schaffer teaches at Georgetown University; Teresita Schaffer is a non-resident senior fellow at Brookings Institution.)

An Irani bomb would facilitate stability

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The past several months have witnessed a heated debate over the best way for the United States and Israel to respond to Iran’s nuclear activities. As the argument has raged,...

The past several months have witnessed a heated debate over the best way for the United States and Israel to respond to Iran’s nuclear activities. As the argument has raged, the United States has tightened its already robust sanctions regime against the Islamic Republic, and the European Union announced in January that it will begin an embargo on Iranian oil on July 1. Although the United States, the EU, and Iran have recently returned to the negotiating table, a palpable sense of crisis still looms.
It should not. Most U.S., European, and Israeli commentators and policymakers warn that a nuclear-armed Iran would be the worst possible outcome of the current standoff. In fact, it would probably be the best possible result: the one most likely to restore stability to the Middle East.
The crisis over Iran’s nuclear program could end in three different ways. First, diplomacy coupled with serious sanctions could convince Iran to abandon its pursuit of a nuclear weapon. But this outcome is unlikely: the historical record indicates that a country bent on acquiring nuclear weapons can rarely be dissuaded from doing so. Punishing a state through economic sanctions does not inexorably derail its nuclear program. Take North Korea, which succeeded in building its weapons despite countless rounds of sanctions and UN Security Council resolutions. If Tehran determines that its security depends on possessing nuclear weapons, sanctions are unlikely to change its mind. In fact, adding still more sanctions now could make Iran feel even more vulnerable, giving it still more reason to seek the protection of the ultimate deterrent.
The second possible outcome is that Iran stops short of testing a nuclear weapon but develops a breakout capability, the capacity to build and test one quite quickly. Iran would not be the first country to acquire a sophisticated nuclear program without building an actual bomb. Japan, for instance, maintains a vast civilian nuclear infrastructure. Experts believe that it could produce a nuclear weapon on short notice.

Shouldering the Burden of War

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While many of us have been distracted by what’s going on in Islamabad, it’s what is happening in KPK that we should be paying close attention to if we want...

While many of us have been distracted by what’s going on in Islamabad, it’s what is happening in KPK that we should be paying close attention to if we want a glimpse of what the future holds. Events this week increasingly point to a terrifying future for Pakistan if we don’t stop and think about our national security strategy and whether any militants are really “ours” or “theirs”.
On Sunday, Taliban militants beheaded seven Pakistani soldiers in Dir. The next day, Afghan-based Taliban militants carried out a cross-border raid that martyred 13 Pakistani soldiers.
The Foreign Office responded immediately by summoning deputy head of the Afghan Mission in Islamabad, Musa Arifi, to the Foreign Office where the Afghan diplomat was told that the government of Afghanistan should take appropriate measures to prevent recurrence of similar incidents in the future.
The next day it was reported that TTP admits having safe haven in Afghanistan. Presumably the Foreign Office will now demand that Afghanistan eliminate militant safe havens on their side of the border. It will be interesting to see if they respond that TTP are not attacking Afghanistan and they have their hands full fighting their own Taliban militants.
The latest events also belie the increasingly accepted propaganda that Afghan Taliban are ‘freedom fighters’ who are waging war against occupation and mean no harm to Pakistan. If NATO really is losing the war in Afghanistan, then this means that the TTP safe havens are being allowed not by foreign occupiers, but by the Afghan militants. In other words, the ‘good Taliban/bad Taliban’ narrative is a lie. Why does no one ask why Jalaluddin Haqqani doesn’t take out Hakimullah Mehsud? Different militant groups may operate under different leadership and have different objectives, but they are all operating under the same extremist ideological umbrella, and in the long term they all want the same thing – forcing all of us to live under their medieval form of rule…or die.
This future is not inevitable, however. We can change course, but we can’t do it alone. We can prevent this future by facing the fact that just like the Americans use of jihadi proxies ended with the militants turning on them, we cannot trust any militant group to be our ally either. We don’t have to pretend that there are not serious problems with US strategy in Afghanistan, but we should also not pretend that an American failure will be a Pakistani success.
In 2014, the Americans will be gone. The Taliban will still be here. Will we continue pretending that Taliban are not bombing schools? Will we continueignoring the killing of Shias? Will we continue to hide our heads in the sand and ignore the fact that these extremist militants are attacking our own culture and religious heritage?
Instead of US giving harsh statements about militant camps on the Pakistan side and Pakistan giving official protests about militant camps on the Afghan side, US and Pakistani generals should be sitting down together and developing a strategy for eliminating militant camps on BOTH sides. It may not be what we want to hear, but after this week, saying “this isn’t our war” isn’t going to cut it anymore.

Hypocrisy thy name is America

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Condemning foreign governments for abusive acts while ignoring one’s own is easy. But the U.S. leads the way Two Op-Eds in The New York Times this morning both warn of the precipitous...

Condemning foreign governments for abusive acts while ignoring one’s own is easy. But the U.S. leads the way
Two Op-Eds in The New York Times this morning both warn of the precipitous decline of American credibility on matters of human rights and peace ushered in by the Obama presidency. Taken together, they explain much of why I’ve been writing what I’ve been writing over the last three years. The first is from Columbia Professor and cyber expert Misha Glenny, who explains the significance of the first ever deployment of cyberwarfare — by the U.S. (first under Bush and accelerated under Obama), along with Israel, against Iran:
THE decision by the United States and Israel to develop and then deploy the Stuxnet computer worm against an Iranian nuclear facility late in George W. Bush’s presidency marked a significant and dangerous turning point in the gradual militarization of the Internet. Washington has begun to cross the Rubicon. If it continues, contemporary warfare will change fundamentally as we move into hazardous and uncharted territory.
It is one thing to write viruses and lock them away safely for future use should circumstances dictate it. It is quite another to deploy them in peacetime. Stuxnet has effectively fired the starting gun in a new arms race that is very likely to lead to the spread of similar and still more powerful offensive cyberweaponry across the Internet. Unlike nuclear or chemical weapons, however, countries are developing cyberweapons outside any regulatory framework. . . .
Stuxnet was originally deployed with the specific aim of infecting the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in Iran. This required sneaking a memory stick into the plant to introduce the virus to its private and secure “offline” network. But despite Natanz’s isolation, Stuxnet somehow escaped into the cyberwild, eventually affecting hundreds of thousands of systems worldwide.
This is one of the frightening dangers of an uncontrolled arms race in cyberspace; once released, virus developers generally lose control of their inventions, which will inevitably seek out and attack the networks of innocent parties. Moreover, all countries that possess an offensive cyber capability will be tempted to use it now that the first shot has been fired. . . .
The United States has long been a commendable leader in combating the spread of malicious computer code, known as malware, that pranksters, criminals, intelligence services and terrorist organizations have been using to further their own ends. But by introducing such pernicious viruses as Stuxnet and Flame, America has severely undermined its moral and political credibility.
He also explains that the Obama administration opposes any treaties to regulate all of this in part because it “might undermine its presumed superiority in the field of cyberweaponry and robotics,” and because it claims Russia and China (but not, of course, the U.S.) would attempt to exploit such treaties to control the Internet.
In case anyone thinks he’s being melodramatic in his warnings, theoriginal New York Times article by David Sanger that confirmed U.S. responsibility for the cyber attack included this passage: “Mr. Obama, according to participants in the many Situation Room meetings on Olympic Games, was acutely aware that with every attack he was pushing the United States into new territory, much as his predecessors had with the first use of atomic weapons in the 1940s, of intercontinental missiles in the 1950s and of drones in the past decade.” It also explained that America’s maiden use of this new form of warfare “could enable other countries, terrorists or hackers to justify their own attacks.”
The second is from former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, an actually meritorious Nobel Peace Prize winner, who describes the record of his fellow Nobel laureate, the current President, in an Op-Ed entitled “A Cruel and Unusual Record“:
Revelations that top officials are targeting people to be assassinated abroad, including American citizens, are only the most recent, disturbing proof of how far our nation’s violation of human rights has extended. This development began after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has been sanctioned and escalated by bipartisan executive and legislative actions, without dissent from the general public. As a result, our country can no longer speak with moral authority on these critical issues. . . . .
It is disturbing that, instead of strengthening these principles, our government’s counterterrorism policies are now clearly violating at least 10 of the [Declaration on Human Rights'] 30 articles, including the prohibition against “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Recent legislation has made legal the president’s right to detain a person indefinitely on suspicion of affiliation with terrorist organizations or “associated forces,” a broad, vague power that can be abused without meaningful oversight from the courts or Congress (the law is currently being blocked by a federal judge). This law violates the right to freedom of expression and to be presumed innocent until proved guilty, two other rights enshrined in the declaration.
In addition to American citizens’ being targeted for assassination or indefinite detention, recent laws have canceled the restraints in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to allow unprecedented violations of our rights to privacy through warrantless wiretapping and government mining of our electronic communications. . . .
Despite an arbitrary rule that any man killed by drones is declared an enemy terrorist, the death of nearby innocent women and children is accepted as inevitable. After more than 30 airstrikes on civilian homes this year in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai has demanded that such attacks end, but the practice continues in areas of Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen that are not in any war zone. We don’t know how many hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed in these attacks, each one approved by the highest authorities in Washington. This would have been unthinkable in previous times.
These policies clearly affect American foreign policy. Top intelligence and military officials, as well as rights defenders in targeted areas, affirm that the great escalation in drone attacks hasturned aggrieved families toward terrorist organizations, aroused civilian populations against us and permitted repressive governments to cite such actions to justify their own despotic behavior. . . .
At a time when popular revolutions are sweeping the globe, the United States should be strengthening, not weakening, basic rules of law and principles of justice enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But instead of making the world safer, America’s violation of international human rights abets our enemies and alienates our friends.
One can reasonably object to Carter’s Op-Ed on the ground that it romanticizes a non-existent American past (systematic human rights abuses are hardly a new development in the post-9/11 world), but what cannot be reasonably disputed is the trend he denounces. Note that the most egregious examples he cites — assassinating U.S. citizens without due process, civilian-killing drone attacks, the indefinite detention provisions of the NDAA — had some genesis under Bush but are hallmarks of Obama policy (his other example, the rapid erosion of constraints on government domestic surveillance, took place under both, with the full support of Obama). It’s a remarkably scathing denunciation of the record of his own political party and its current leader.
Many American pundits and foreign policy experts love to depict themselves as crusaders for human rights, but it almost always takes the form of condemning other governments, never their own. There’s no end to self-styled U.S. human rights moralizers who will oh-so-bravely (and inconsequentially) write one screed after the next about the oppressive acts of Syria, or Russia, or China, or Iran (the targets of their wrath are not just foreign governments, but usually ones serving the role as Current Enemy of the U.S. Government).
But when it comes to the human rights violations they can actually do something about — the ones committed (or enabled) by their own government: the government for which they vote and to which they pay taxes and over which they are supposed to act as adversarial watchdogs — they are largely silent. They prefer the cheap, easy, self-satisfying and pointless sermons (look over there at how terrible that foreign country is) to the much harder and more purposeful opposition to their own government’s abuses (American commentators who devote substantial attention to the human rights abuses of other nations but the bulk of their time on their own government’s are commendable rarities). As Noam Chomskyperfectly explained when asked why he focuses more of his time and energy on the human rights abuses of the U.S. and its allies than other countries:
My own concern is primarily the terror and violence carried out by my own state, for two reasons. For one thing, because it happens to be the larger component of international violence. But also for a much more important reason than that; namely, I can do something about it. So even if the U.S. was responsible for 2 percent of the violence in the world instead of the majority of it, it would be that 2 percent I would be primarily responsible for. And that is a simple ethical judgment. That is, the ethical value of one’s actions depends on their anticipated and predictable consequences. It is very easy to denounce the atrocities of someone else. That has about as much ethical value as denouncing atrocities that took place in the 18th century.
Condemning the abusive acts of other countries while ignoring or sanctioning those of one’s own government is indeed easy. It’s cost-free. It’s inconsequential. It’s career-advancing (using purported human rights concerns to bash America’s Enemies converts one into an eager, useful instrument of U.S. policy and a perpetuator of D.C. orthodoxy). And, most of all, it’s self-affirming (those people over there are really bad, but not us, and by railing against them I show what a good and concerned person I am).
That’s precisely why the prime dogma in U.S. political and media discourse on foreign policy is that serious human rights violations (along with Terrorism) are something that non-Westerners do, not the West (and certainly not the U.S.). What these two Op-Eds today demonstrate is that not only is this false, but the U.S. continues to be a key pioneer in these abuses. It’s easy to distinguish American pundits and experts with a genuine commitment to human rights from those who feign concern by the extent to which they work against their own government’s conduct.

UPDATE: A related point was made by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1967, when he delivered an extraordinary speech designed to address complaints that his anti-war activism was distracting from his civil rights work, and he explained why the latter was impossible without the former (h/t Duncan Mitchel)
As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action.
But they ask — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They ask if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted.
Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettoswithout having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.
Last January, I wrote about King’s speech and how it relates to current political activism.

How to Start a War

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Turkey and Syria are locked in a fierce struggle that has escalated greatly following Friday’s downing of a Turkish Phantom F-4 jet by the Syrian authorities. The two heavily armed...

Turkey and Syria are locked in a fierce struggle that has escalated greatly following Friday’s downing of a Turkish Phantom F-4 jet by the Syrian authorities. The two heavily armed neighbors are inching gradually into a military confrontation, one that is unlikely to be isolated and that has the potential to turn into a region-wide conflict.
Consequently it could take just one spark — an incident such as this — to ignite a fire between Ankara and Damascus, the flames of which could enflame the entire region.
At this particular juncture Turkey is refraining from taking any military measures against Syria. In Tuesday’s speech to the Turkish parliament, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed that his country was adopting a “common-sense” attitude that “should not be perceived as a weakness”. Turkey’s new approcah relies on active diplomacy, potent economic sanctions and pschological warfare, and the mobilization of both NATO and the western powers, in an effort to isolate the Assad regime further.
Fawaz Gerges
Security Clearance: Can Turkey force U.S., NATO to attack Syria?
It is worth noting that NATO members and EU foreign ministers have called on Turkey to show restraint and avoid action that could escalate into war. “Military intervention in Syria is out of the question,” said the Dutch Foreign Miister Uris Rosenthal. However, Erdogan stressed that “the rules of engagement of the Turkish Armed Forces have changed.” He stated that any advance by Syrian forces toward the Turkish border would be seen as a threat and “treated as a military target.”
What this really means is that Turkey is establishing a de facto safe zone that hinders Syria’s ability to move troops close to the border. This will allow the Syrian rebels to gather strength in that the border area and advance toward the Syrian heartlands.
NATO, Turkey slam Syria over downed jet Tensions rise after Syria downs jet Turkey’s Ambassador: All blame on Syria Turkey toughens military stance Turkey seeks help from NATO on Syria
PM Erdogan of course spoke carefully in his speech on Tuesday: he stressed that his country talks softly but warned that Turkey’s “wrath is fierce and intense when it needs to be”. There is no mistaking the implied threat: the de factor safe zone means Turkey would not allow Syrian forces near border, thus allowing the rebels a free movement there.
So while Turkey is not threatening to launch a pre-emptive attack on the Assad regime it is certainly taking indirect steps to support the Syrian rebels. Recent reports claim that Turkey, along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, is channeling arms to Syrian rebels with America’s implicit consent, though Ankara denies that it is doing so.
Turning to the actual attack on the Turkish jet, much remains unclear. We don’t know how long it was in Syrian territory for. And was it an innocent mistake on the part of the pilots, or was the plane on a surveillance mission to monitor developments inside Syria? The Turkish authorities refute such claims, and say the jet was testing Turkey’s own radar capabilities.
On the other hand, Syria acknowledges shooting down the jet, but says the downing of the “unidentitifed object” was not an attack. The Syrian government is trying to de-escalate the crisis by saying it did not know it was Turkish, and was merely defending its territory and not acting aggressively.
“We had to react immediately, even if the plane was Syrian we would have shot it down,” said foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdisi at a press conference in Damascus. “The Syrian response was an act of defense of our sovereignty carried out by anti-aircraft machine gun which has a maximum range of 2.5 km.”
But in its letter to the United Nations Security Council, Turkey says that intercepted radio communication shows that Syrian units were fully aware of the circumstances of the flight and that Syria knew exactly who the plane belonged to.
By downing the reconnaissance aircraft, Syria is trying to send a message to Turkey — and the world beyond that is supporting the rebels: Be wary: this is not Libya and we have the military capability and the will to oppose and resist any foreign intervention.
Erdogan’s announcement signals a subtle and important shift in Ankara’s response to the Syrian crisis, in terms not only of political, economic and psychological pressure on President Bashar al-Assad, but also in creating this de facto safe zone that could in theory be enlarged into a base to provide strategic depth for rebels and allow more defectors to enter.
Syria is flexing its muscles, and even though Turkey is not retaliating militarily, its actions could be a game-changer within Syria, and between the two countries that were once close allies.
The opinions expressed here are solely those of Fawaz A. Gerges

Mutiny case: Brig Ali’s court martial concluded

Posted by Admin On Tuesday, 26 June 2012 0 comments

The court martial proceedings of Brigadier Ali Khan, who was facing charges of having links with the banned Hizbut Tahrir, conspiring to topple the government, trying to instigate a mutiny within the army and planning an attack on the GHQ were completed on Tuesday.
The decision will be announced after approval of Chief of Army Staff.
The court martial’s proceedings against Ali started last year in December.
During the six-month long proceedings, five military officers recorded their testimonies from prosecutor’s side.
The officers said that the defendant, Ali, provoked them for mutiny against the civil leadership.
According to the rules and regulation, the military court will send its written verdict to the Corps Commander Gujranwala. Then it would be forwarded to the chief of Army staff before publicly announcing the verdict.
According to the military rules of business, this entire procedure could take from a few weeks time to several months.
If proven guilty, Brigadier Ali Khan could face the death sentence.
Hizbut Tahrir, which is banned in Pakistan as well as several other Muslim countries, professes non-violence and is not connected to terrorist groups like the Pakistani Taliban or al Qaeda. But the outfit makes no secret of its desire to penetrate the armies of Muslim countries, particularly Pakistan, and foment an “Islamic coup” to establish a global “caliphate.”


TTP acknowledges their sanctuaries on Afghan soil

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The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – a banned conglomerate of dozens of militant outfits – has admitted for the first time that they are using the Afghan soil as a springboard...

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – a banned conglomerate of dozens of militant outfits – has admitted for the first time that they are using the Afghan soil as a springboard for launching attacks on Pakistani security forces.
The acknowledgment gives credence to Islamabad’s claims that the TTP has found safe havens in Afghanistan’s eastern provinces bordering Pakistan.
Pakistani officials believe that the top TTP cadres – including Maulana Fazlullah, Maulvi Faqir and Waliur Rehman – and hundreds of their loyalists had fled a string of military offensives in Swat, and Bajaur and Mohmand agencies since 2008 to seek shelter in Afghanistan.
“Maulana Fazlullah is leading TTP attacks from Afghanistan’s border provinces and is in touch with fighters in Malakand division,” Sirajuddin, the spokesperson for TTP’s Malakand chapter, told The Express Tribune by phone from an undisclosed location. “We regularly move across the porous border,” he added.
He claimed that Fazlullah was commanding over a thousand diehard fighters.
Contrary to Pakistani claims, Sirajuddin, however, said that the TTP hierarchy and fighters fled to Afghanistan in recent months and now they are settled in the country’s border regions.
Until this month the administration of President Hamid Karzai was in denial about TTP’s bases in Afghanistan. However, Kabul has now conceded the presence of ‘some TTP militants’ in the border regions, according to a senior Pakistani official.

Why Pakistan why this Perversity?

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Why geography — unfortunately — is destiny for South Asia’s troubled heartland. BY ROBERT D. KAPLAN Perversity characterizes Pakistan. Only the worst African hellholes, Afghanistan, Haiti, Yemen, and Iraq rank...

Why geography — unfortunately — is destiny for South Asia’s troubled heartland.
Perversity characterizes Pakistan. Only the worst African hellholes, Afghanistan, Haiti, Yemen, and Iraq rank higher on this year’s Failed States Index. The country is run by a military obsessed with — and, for decades, invested in — the conflict with India, and by a civilian elite that steals all it can and pays almost no taxes. But despite an overbearing military, tribes “defined by a near-universal male participation in organized violence,” as the late European anthropologist Ernest Gellner put it, dominate massive swaths of territory. The absence of the state makes for 20-hour daily electricity blackouts and an almost nonexistent education system in many areas.
The root cause of these manifold failures, in many minds, is the very artificiality of Pakistan itself: a cartographic puzzle piece sandwiched between India and Central Asia that splits apart what the British Empire ruled as one indivisible subcontinent. Pakistan claims to represent the Indian subcontinent’s Muslims, but more Muslims live in India and Bangladesh put together than in Pakistan. In the absence of any geographical reason for its existence, Pakistan, so the assumption goes, can fall back only on Islamic extremism as an organizing principle of the state.
But this core assumption about what ails Pakistan is false. Pakistan, which presents more nightmare scenarios for American policymakers than perhaps any other country, does have geographical logic. The vision of Pakistan’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in the 1940s did not constitute a mere power grab at the expense of India’s Hindu-dominated Congress party. There was much history and geography behind his drive to create a separate Muslim state anchored in the subcontinent’s northwest, abutting southern Central Asia. Understanding this legacy properly leads to a very troubling scenario about where Pakistan — and by extension, Afghanistan and India — may now be headed. Pakistan’s present and future, for better or worse, are still best understood through its geography.
THE MUSLIM EXPERIENCE in South Asia begins with the concept of al-Hind, the Arabic word for India. Al-Hind invokes the vast tracts of the northern and northwestern parts of the Indian subcontinent that came under mainly Turko-Islamic rule in the Middle Ages and were protected from the horse-borne Mongols by lack of sufficient pastureland. The process of Muslim conquest began in Sindh, the desert tract south and east of Iran and Afghanistan, adjacent to the Arabian Sea, easily accessible to the Middle East by land and maritime routes.
The Umayyad Arabs conquered and Islamicized Sindh in the early eighth century. Then came the Turkic Ghaznavids (based out of Ghazni, in eastern Afghanistan), who conquered parts of northern India in the 11th century. The Ghaznavids were followed by the Delhi Sultanate, a military oligarchy between the early 13th and early 16th centuries, which preceded the splendorous rule of the Persianized Mughal dynasty on the subcontinent. All these Muslim warriors governed immense inkblots of territory that were extensions of the Arab-Persian world that lay to the west, even as they interacted and traded with China to the north and east. It was a land without fixed borders that, according to University of Wisconsin historian AndrĂ© Wink, represented a rich confection of Arab, Persian, and Turkic culture, bustling with trade routes to Muslim Central Asia.
To the extent that one area was the ganglion of this Muslim civilization, it was today’s Pakistan. Fertile Punjab, which straddles the Pakistan-India frontier, “linked the Mughal empire, through commercial, cultural and ethnic intercourse, with Persia and Central Asia,” writes University of Chicago historian Muzaffar Alam. This area of Pakistan has been for centuries the civilizational intermediary connecting the cool and sparsely populated tableland of Central Asia with the hot and teeming panel of cultivation in the Indian subcontinent. Pakistan’s many mountain passes, especially those of Khyber and Bolan, join Kabul and Kandahar in Afghanistan with the wheat- and rice-baskets thousands of feet below. The descent from Afghanistan to the Indus River, which runs lengthwise through the middle of Pakistan, is exceedingly gradual, so for millennia various cultures occupied both the high plateaus and the lowland riverine plains. This entire middle region — not quite the subcontinent, not quite Central Asia — was more than a frontier zone or a bold line on a map: It was a fluid cultural organism and the center of many civilizations in their own right.
What we know as modern-day Pakistan is far from an artificial entity; it is just the latest of the many spatial arrangements for states on the subcontinent. The map of the Harappan civilization, a complex network of centrally controlled chieftaincies in the late fourth to mid-second millennium B.C., was one of its earliest predecessors. The Harappan world stretched from Baluchistan northeast up to Kashmir and southeast down almost to both Delhi and Mumbai, nearly touching present-day Iran and Afghanistan and extending into both northwestern and western India. It was a complex geography of settlement that adhered to landscapes capable of supporting irrigation, and whose heartland was today’s Pakistan.
The Mauryan Empire, which existed from the fourth to the second centuries B.C., came to envelop much of the subcontinent and thus, for the first time in history, encouraged the idea of India as a political entity. But whereas the area of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and northern India all fell under Mauryan rule, India’s deep south did not. Next came the Kushan Empire, whose Indo-European rulers conquered territory from the Ferghana Valley, in the demographic heart of Central Asia, to Bihar in northeastern India. Once again, the heart of the empire that linked Central Asia and India was in Pakistan; one of the Kushan capitals was Peshawar, Pakistan’s frontier city today.
Later on, throughout the Middle Ages and the early modern era, Muslim invaders from the west grafted India to the greater Middle East, with the Indus River valley functioning as the core of all these interactions, as close to the Middle East and Central Asia as it is to the Ganges River valley. Under the Delhi-based Mughal dynasty, which ruled from the early 1500s to 1720, central Afghanistan to northern India was all part of one polity, with Pakistan occupying the territorial heartland.
Rather than a fake modern creation, Pakistan is the very geographical and national embodiment of all the Muslim invasions that have swept down into India throughout its history, even as Pakistan’s southwest is the subcontinental region first occupied by Muslim Arabs invading from the Middle East. The Indus, much more than the Ganges, has always had an organic relationship with the Arab, Persian, and Turkic worlds. It is historically and geographically appropriate that the Indus Valley civilization, long ago a satrapy of Achaemenid Persia and the forward bastion of Alexander the Great’s Near Eastern empire, today is deeply enmeshed with political currents swirling through the Middle East, of which Islamic extremism forms a major element. This is not determinism but merely the recognition of an obvious pattern.
The more one reads this history, the more it becomes apparent that the Indian subcontinent has two principal geographical regions: the Indus Valley with its tributaries, and the Ganges Valley with its tributaries. Pakistani scholar Aitzaz Ahsan identifies the actual geographical fissure within the subcontinent as the “Gurdaspur-Kathiawar salient,” a line running from eastern Punjab southwest to the Arabian Sea in Gujarat. This is the watershed, and it matches up almost perfectly with the Pakistan-India border. Nearly all the Indus tributaries fall to the west of this line, and all the Ganges tributaries fall to the east. Only the Mauryas, Mughals, and British bonded these two regions into single states. For those three empires, the Indus formed the frontier zone and required many more troops there facing restive Central Asia than along the Ganges, which was under no comparable threat.
Likewise, the medieval Delhi Sultanate faced so much trouble in Central Asia that it temporarily moved its capital westward to Lahore (from India to Pakistan, in today’s terms) to deal with the military threats emanating from what is today Afghanistan. Yet, for the overwhelming majority of history, when one empire did not rule both the entire Indus and the entire Ganges, the southern and eastern parts of Afghanistan, most of Pakistan, and northwestern India were nevertheless all governed as one political unit. And the rich and populous Indus Valley, as close to the wild and woolly Central Asian frontier as it was, formed the pulsating imperial center of that unit.
Here, alas, is the conundrum. During the relatively brief periods when the areas of India and Pakistan were united — the Mauryan, Mughal, and British — there was obviously no issue about who dominated the trade routes into Central Asia. During the rest of history, there was no problem either, because while empires like the Kushan, Ghaznavid, and Delhi Sultanate did not control the eastern Ganges, they did control both the Indus and the western Ganges, so that Delhi and Lahore were under the rule of one polity, even as Central Asia was also under their control. Today’s political geography is historically unique, however: an Indus Valley state, Pakistan, and a powerful Ganges Valley state, India, both fighting for control of an independent and semi-chaotic Central Asian near abroad — Afghanistan.
Despite its geographical and historical logic, this Indus state is far more unstable than the Gangetic state. Here, too, geography provides an answer. Pakistan encompasses the frontier of the subcontinent, a region that even the British were unable to incorporate into their bureaucracy, running it instead as a military fiefdom, making deals with the tribes. Thus, Pakistan did not inherit the stabilizing civilian institutions that India did. Winston Churchill’s first book as a young man, The Story of the Malakand Field Force, wonderfully captures the challenges facing colonial border troops in British India. As the young author then concluded, the only way to function in this part of the world is through “a system of gradual advance, of political intrigue among the tribes, of subsidies and small expeditions.”
PAKISTAN’S GEOGRAPHICAL COHERENCE, albeit subtle and problematic, is mirrored in its subtle and problematic linguistic coherence. Just as Hindi is associated with Hindus in northern India, Urdu is associated with Muslims in Pakistan. Urdu — from “horde,” the Turkic-Persian word for a military camp — is the ultimate frontier language. Reflecting its geographical links to the Middle East, Urdu is written in a Persianized Arabic script, even though its grammar is identical to Hindi and other Sanskritic languages. It is often believed that Urdu came into existence through the interaction of Turkic, Persian, and indigenous Indian soldiers in Mughal army encampments, not just on the Indus frontier but in the medieval Gangetic cities of Agra, Delhi, and Lucknow. Thus, it is truly the language of al-Hind.
Urdu is Pakistan’s lingua franca, even as Punjabi, with links to the non-Islamic Sikhs and Hindus, enjoys a plurality of native speakers in Pakistan. Under Pakistan’s military dictator Muhammad Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s, the combination of Urdu literacy programs in religious institutions and the teaching of Arabic in state schools gave Urdu more of a Middle Eastern and Islamic edge, writes Alyssa Ayres, now U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, in Speaking Like a State: Language and Nationalism in Pakistan.
The linguistic, demographic, and cultural organizing principle of the Indus Valley is Punjab, whose name means “five rivers”: the Beas, Chenab, Jhelum, Ravi, and Sutlej, all tributaries of the Indus. Punjab represents the northwesternmost concentration of population and agriculture before the ground starts to climb toward the wilds of Central Asia. As such, it is coveted because of its special access to Central Asian trade routes, though it was a frontier battleground in its own right relative to the rest of British India.
Because of Sikh uprisings, the Mughals had a difficult time securing Punjab. The British fought two wars to wrest the region from the Sikhs in the 1840s, after the rest of India had already been subdued. Once Punjab was conquered, however, the Pashtun northwest frontier, the gateway to Afghanistan and Central Asia, beckoned for the British. Because Punjab abutted the northwest frontier zone, which in turn abutted southern Central Asia, its soldiers became known for their military prowess — the “sword arm of India,” contributing 28 of the 131 infantry units in the Indian Army by 1862.
But with the re-creation of an Indus state and a Gangetic state upon the demise of the British Raj in 1947, Punjab, rather than a frontier province of greater India, became the urban hub of the new Indus Valley frontier state: Pakistan. Although eastern Punjab fell within India, western Punjab still contains more than half of Pakistan’s population. With close to 90 million people, western Punjab would be the world’s 15th-largest country, putting it ahead of Egypt, Germany, Turkey, and Iran. Punjabis have accounted for as much as 80 percent of the Pakistan Army and 55 percent of the federal bureaucracy.
Punjab is like an internal imperial power ruling Pakistan, in the way that Serbia and the Serbian army ran Yugoslavia prior to that country’s civil war and breakup. “Punjab is perceived to have ‘captured’ Pakistan’s national institutions through nepotism and other patronage networks,” 
 Ayres. Its rural female literacy rate is nearly twice that of Sindh province and the province on the northwest frontier with Afghanistan, and it’s more than triple Baluchistan’s. Punjabis, she adds, “are better off than everyone else [in Pakistan], with more productive land, cleaner water, better technology, and better educated families.”
Pakistani historian and anthropologist Muhammad Azam Chaudhary writes, “If the motherland of the five rivers [Punjab] had not been obtained, then in terms of geography, it would have been impossible to establish Pakistan.” Yet Punjab itself is not indivisible, for the southern part of the province is made up of speakers of Saraiki — a linguistic mixture of Punjabi and Sindhi — with their own separate identity. And while the rest of Pakistan sees Punjab as hegemonic, Punjabis themselves harbor an inferiority complex (again, like the Serbs), claiming that they have sacrificed much for a state that doesn’t work and, as a result, get insufficient respect from other Pakistanis.
The tension between Punjabis and other Pakistanis overlaps with the tension that exists among the other ethnic groups. Chronic urban conflict in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, pits local Sindhis against Baluchis and Pashtuns, just as in Baluchistan there are tensions between Baluchis and Pashtuns. Islamic ideology, like communism in Yugoslavia, has proved an insufficient glue to form a prideful national identity. Instead, this frontier region between the Middle East and Hindu India has become an explosive amalgamation of often warring ethnic identities.
This is not, of course, how Jinnah envisioned Pakistan. He imagined a federalized state in which the various ethnically based provinces retained a high degree of autonomy. With such freedom, the angst of domination by Punjabis — and by each other — would not have existed, allowing for a civil society to emerge and, with that, a state with vibrant institutional capacity. Indeed, history shows that central authority can only be effective if it is strictly delimited. Regrettably, Pakistan has been what 20th-century European scholars Ernest Gellner and Robert Montagne call a “segmentary” society. Hovering between centralization and anarchy, such a society, in Montagne’s words, is typified by a regime that “drains the life from a region,” even though, “because of its own fragility,” it fails to establish lasting institutions. This is the byproduct of a landscape riven by mountains and desert, a place where tribes are strong and the central government is comparatively weak. Put another way, Pakistan, as King’s College London scholar Anatol Lieven notes, is a weak state with strong societies.
India is the counterfactual to Pakistan’s dilemma. India’s individual states are linguistically based and thus have confident identities: Kannada-speaking Karnataka, Marathi-speaking Maharashtra, Telugu-speaking Andhra Pradesh, Bengali-speaking West Bengal, Hindi-speaking Uttar Pradesh, and so forth. This might, in some scenarios, lead to local nationalism and irredentist movements, as is the case with Pakistan. Because central authority in New Delhi is restricted, however, diversity is celebrated and has become, in turn, a healthy basis for a pan-Indian national identity.
If India were less diverse and consisted of only the “cow belt” of Hindi-speaking northern India,observes Lieven, it might not have become a democracy but rather “some form of impoverished Hindu-nationalist dictatorship.” Instead, India is like Indonesia: a geographically sprawling and diverse democracy united by a common language that does not threaten the use of local tongues and dialects.
Kashmir, the contested region over which India and Pakistan have fought for decades, is where the two countries’ different personalities are most in evidence. According to Indiana University’s Sumit Ganguly, India requires the Muslim-dominated Himalayan territory to substantiate its claim as a multiconfessional democracy, rather than as a Hindu-dominated state, whereas Pakistan requires Kashmir to substantiate its claim as the chief remnant of Muslim al-Hind.
And so we come to the core reason for Pakistan’s perversity. The fact that Pakistan is historically and geographically well-rooted is only partially a justification for statehood. Although a Muslim frontier state between mountains and plains has often existed in the subcontinent’s history, that past belonged to a world not of fixed borders, but rather of perpetually moving spheres of control as determined by the movements of armies — such was the medieval world. The Ghaznavids, the Delhi Sultanate, and the Mughal dynasty all controlled the subcontinent’s northwestern frontier, but their boundaries were all vague and somewhat different from one another — all of which means Pakistan cannot claim its borders are legitimate by history alone. It requires something else: the legitimacy that comes with good governance and strong institutions. Without that, we are back to the medieval map, which is what we have now — known in Washington bureaucratic parlance as “AfPak.”
The term AfPak itself, popularized by the late diplomat Richard Holbrooke, indicates two failed states — otherwise, they would share a strong border and would not have to be conjoined in one word. Let me provide the real meaning of AfPak, as defined by geography and history: It is a rump Islamic greater Punjab — the tip of the demographic spear of the Indian subcontinent toward which all trade routes between southern Central Asia and the Indus Valley are drawn — exerting its power over Pashtunistan and Baluchistan, just as Punjab has since time immemorial.
This is a world where ethnic boundaries do not configure with national ones. Pashtunistan and Baluchistan overlap with Afghanistan and less so with Iran. About half of the world’s 40-plus million Pashtuns live on the Pakistani side of the border. The majority of the more than 8 million Baluchis live within Pakistan, the rest in neighboring Afghanistan and Iran.
In recent decades, the age-old pathways in this region have been used by Islamic terrorists, as well as by traditional traders. The link between Pakistan’s premier spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and the so-called Haqqani network tied to al Qaeda merely replicates the arteries of commerce emanating from Punjab outward to southern Central Asia. Punjabis dominate the ISI, and the Afghan Pashtun Haqqani network is both an Islamic terrorist outfit and a vast trade and smuggling operation, unto the Amu Darya River to the northwest and unto Iran to the west.
Because al-Hind has historically been so rich in cultural and commercial connections, when modern states do not sink deep roots into the land, the result is a reversion to traditional patterns, albeit with contemporary ideological characteristics. The U.S. State Department and many policy analysts in Washington have proposed a new silk route that could emerge in the event of a peace treaty in Afghanistan. What they fail to recognize is that a silk route is already flourishing outward from Punjab — it is just not oriented to Western purposes.
The longer the fighting goes on in Afghanistan and along the Afghanistan-Pakistan borderland, the weaker Pakistan as a modern state will become. As that occurs, the medieval map will come into even greater focus. Jakub Grygiel, a professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, points out that when states or empires involve themselves in irregular, decentralized warfare, central control weakens. A state only grows strong when it faces a concentrated and conventional ground threat, creating the need to match it in organizational capabilities and thus bolstering central authority. But the opposite kind of threat leads to the opposite result. Pakistan’s very obsession with the ground threat posed by India is a sign of how it requires a conventional enemy to hold it together, even as its answer to India in the contested ground of Central Asia — supporting decentralized Islamic terrorism from Afghanistan to Kashmir — is having the ironic effect of pulling Pakistan itself apart. It is unclear whether invigorated civilian control in Pakistan can arrest this long-term process.
This process could even quicken. With the Soviets abandoning Afghanistan in the late 1980s and the Americans on their way out in coming years, India will attempt to fill the void partially by building infrastructure projects and providing support to the Afghan security services. This will mark the beginning of the real battle between the Indus state and the Gangetic state for domination of southern Central Asia.
At the same time, as Pakistan is primarily interested in southern and eastern Afghanistan, the part of Afghanistan north of the Hindu Kush mountains may, if current trends continue, become more peaceful and drift into the economic orbit of the former Soviet Central Asian republics, especially given that Uzbeks and Tajiks live astride northern Afghanistan’s border with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. This new formation would closely approximate the borders of ancient Bactria, with which Alexander the Great was so familiar.
Indeed, the past may hold the key to the future of al-Hind.