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ISI’s new chief has an agenda: scuttle India-Afghanistan ties

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a dramatic reshuffle, Pakistan has replaced the Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar with Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar.The implications of the new appointment remain to be seen, but one can get a glimpse of Mukhtar’s strategy and his views on the relationship between India and Afghanistan and the troubled neighbourhood, in general, from his thesis ‘Afghanistan — Alternative futures and their implications’, written at the US Army War College.In his thesis, he speaks of taking ‘aggressive measures’ to undermine India and prevent Afghanistan from becoming its proxy, and allowing the US to employ diplomatic measures between India and Pakistan to ease tensions, especially on Kashmir.Intelligence sources here say that his role in the ISI had been drafted as early as in September by the then army chief General Raheel Sharif for his expertise in counter-terrorism and also for the role he played in Karachi, where he succeeded in manoeuvring the Mohajer political outfit Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM).A fierce critic of the Pakistan army so far, the MQM was controlled from London by its exiled leader Altaf Hussain. During his former stint at the ISI and as then head of the Karachi Corps, Lt Gen Mukhtar is believed to have led secret missions against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA).In his thesis, he speaks of taking ‘aggressive measures’ to undermine India and prevent Afghanistan from becoming its proxy, and allowing the US to employ diplomatic measures between India and Pakistan to ease tensions, especially on Kashmir.In sync with the trajectory upheld by the Pakistan military on handling the conflict-ridden Afghanistan, Mukhtar, in the thesis for his Masters in Strategic Studies, envisages the accommodation of the ‘moderate Taliban’ in the governance of the country.Mukhtar, who was elevated from his position as a corps commander in Karachi, had earlier served as the DG of the ISI’s counter-terrorism wing. His strategic mindset vis-a-vis Pakistan’s foreign policy on Afghanistan is reflected in his analyses on the future of the neighbouring country.Analysing Afghanistan’s transition when the US started withdrawing coalition forces in 2011, Mukhtar said that Pakistan needed to prevent the opening of another hostile front, should Afghanistan emerge as a proxy for India, and, to this effect, it “will closely follow India’s efforts to influence Afghanistan and may take aggressive measures to undermine India’s efforts in this regard.”India has huge stakes in the development of Afghanistan and has made major strides in the reconstruction of public infrastructure in the war-ravaged country through visible symbols like the new parliament building, Salma friendship dam, Afghan National Agriculture Science & Technology University, Kandahar, and many other projects in the health, power and education sectors.Its close alliance with Afghanistan in the civil-military sphere has made India a target of Taliban. Pakistan, too, views India as working against its interest in Afghanistan. Mukhtar presents four plausible future scenarios for Afghanistan, all of which include a positive outcome: accommodation of moderate Taliban factions as part of the governance structure.”Although India’s uncompromising anti-Taliban position has recently softened, India could still move to be a major destabilising force if it perceives that a return of a radicalised Taliban government is likely,” he writes.While acknowledging the indisputable power and role of the US in bringing long-term stability in Afghanistan, along with regional stakeholders, Mukhtar emphasises: “The US must employ major diplomatic measures to ease regional tensions, especially between India and Pakistan, with a focus on Kashmir.”

Brain behind ‘azadi’ protests arrested after four months

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jammu and Kashmir Police achieved a major success on Friday when they arrested the most-wanted separatist leader who was the brain behind massive ‘pro-azadi (freedom) and anti-India’ protests in south Kashmir in the last four months.Mir Hafizullah, the district president of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat led by 87-year-old hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani, had gone underground to lead the protests after the unrest began following the killing of Hizbul Mujahedeen commander Burhan Wani on July 8.Police said Mir had organised scores of pro-freedom and anti-India rallies in Anantnag which had allegedly triggered stone pelting in South Kashmir. Mir was evading arrest for the last four months and organising and leading protests from underground.”Mir was one of the main instigators operating in Kokarnag and Achabal. He was leading the protests. Further investigation is on,” said Nitish Kumar, deputy inspector general, South Kashmir Range.

Quetta terror attack: India trying to create ‘chaos’ in Pakistan, says Imran Khan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After 61 people were killed in twin suicide attacks as terrorists stormed a police training college in Quetta, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has lashed out at India for trying to ‘implode’ Islamabad under a new ‘doctrine’.Speaking to reporters outside his residence, the PTI chief asserted that India was aware it could not defeat a nuclear-armed state militarily, which is why it was trying to create chaos within the nation, Dawn reports.”It is strange that whenever we start doing something, something major happens in the country. It is apparent that India is trying to implode Pakistan. Under this doctrine, it wants to create chaos in Pakistan and wants the ongoing reform movement against corruption in the country to fail,” he said.Earlier, Khan had alleged that India was helping Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, saying that whenever the government came under pressure, tensions would flare up along the LoC.He added that the Quetta attack could be a part of the Indian doctrine of chaos in Pakistan.Branding Prime Minister Sharif a ‘security risk’ for Pakistan, Khan accused the government of failing to stop terror-funding in the country, which was an important part of the National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorism.

India trying to ‘implode’ Pakistan and sabotage moves against corruption: Imran Khan

Islamabad: On Tuesday cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan claimed India was trying to “implode” Pakistan and sabotage moves against corruption.

The 64-year-old Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman also accused Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of being a “security risk” to the country.

“A new doctrine has originated in India which aims to implode Pakistan because they have failed to defeat us militarily,” Imran told reporters outside his residence before leaving for Quetta, where Islamic State militants attacked a police training centre.

“…to make Pakistan descend into chaos without any reforms,” he said, adding that India did not want an inside political reform movement to succeed.

“Whenever we plan to launch a reform movement against corruption in the country such terror attacks happen,” he added.

A file photo of Imran Khan. ReutersA file photo of Imran Khan. Reuters

A file photo of Imran Khan. Reuters

Noting that corruption and militancy funding in Pakistan “run side by side”, Imran also called Sharif a “security risk” for the country as the prime minister was only interested in saving himself from the accountability in the wake of the Panama Papers leaks.

“His only aim is to save himself from the repercussions of the revelations regarding his corruption in Panama leaks,” he said and demanded the government to highlight the names of those officials who were involved in leaking the crucial information regarding a high-level security meeting here.

He went on to add that “when Balochistan Chief Minister is saying that India was involved in sabotaging law and order in the province then why does our prime minister not raise his voice on the issue on global forums”.

Former PoK PM to lead march to LoC on Nov 24

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Former prime minister of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan has announced plans to march towards the Line of Control (LoC) on November 24.Addressing a meet the Press event today, Khan said the participants would attempt to enter the Indian side of Kashmir by breaking ceasefire at three points in Poonch and Mirpur. Dunya News quoted Khan as saying that he would also take other Kashmiri political parties into confidence over the proposed rally. The former prime minister has urged youth to gather at the LoC and move towards Kashmir in order to inform the international community about the unrest in the Kashmir. Khan said that the Awami Tehreek has made the Kashmir issue a flash point. A public contact campaign would be launched on the 11th Muharram, he added.

Pakistan: Prominent Sikh politician Sooran Singh’s killing deplored by community

The killing of former president of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) Sooran Singh on Friday sent a shock wave to the Sikh community across the world, who deplored the heinous act in strongest possible terms.Singh was on his way back home on a motorcycle after attending a public rally of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) of former cricketer Imran Khan when he was shot dead reportedly by Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) terrorist.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Describing his killing as a “huge loss to the community”, Ramesh Singh Arora, a member of the Punjab Provincial Assembly in Pakistan, told that Singh was on his way back home in Banur near the Swat valley after attending a public meeting when he was attacked by some unidentified people.
ALSO READ Pakistan: Prominent Sikh politician Sardar Sooran Singh of Tehreek-e-Insaf shot deadSingh had also served the PSGPC, which manages gurdwaras across Pakistan, as secretary for a long time. He was an active member of PTI, which rules the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan.Singh, 52, who was Parliamentary Secretary for Minorities in Kyber Pakhtunkhwa province, was known for bringing Sikh and Hindu marriage acts separately in the province.Condemning the killing, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) additional secretary Daljit Singh Bedi called it “an attack on the minority community members, who are already living in fear in Pakistan”. He said the lives and properties of Sikhs living in Pakistan, especially in the frontier province of Pakhtoon area, were in danger.A small time businessman, Singh was hailed by as a custodian of Sikhs ‘rights in the area’. “A crusader for the Sikh rights has been silenced,” said Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee chief Manjit Singh GK.Deploring the killing of the Sikh leader, Shiromani Akali Dal (Delhi) chief Paramjit Singh Sarna said, “He was a custodian of the ‘Nanakshahi Calender’.”Terming the killing ‘a heinous and condemnable act’, American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chief J.S. Hothi and coordinator Dr. Pritpal Singh said, “Swaran Singh was a leader of the community, who was working for the protection of the Sikh interests in that area of Pakistan. We strongly condemn the killing.”Pakistan Evacuee Trust Property Board (PETPB) chairman Farooq ul Saddiq said Swaran Singh was helpful to every community. Shaikh Azhar, a PETPB trusty, said that he was saddened by the news of killing of Swarn Singh.

Raheel Sharif calls the shots in Pakistan, not Nawaz: Then why this charade of a Pathankot ‘probe’?

What more proof of Pakistan’s doublespeak on terrorism does India need than Islamabad’s collusion with Beijing to block a proposed ban on Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar at the UN?

On the day Pakistan was working in cahoots with China to block the blacklisting of Azhar, the Pakistan Joint Intelligence Team (JIT) — uponing return to Islamabad — was gloating that India had ‘failed’ to provide evidence of the involvement of terrorists in the Pathankot attack. On the other hand, the NIA claims that India had provided all the evidence required. It included call records, names and addresses of suspects — including those of Masood Azhar and his brother Abdul Rauf — and ballistic and forensic reports.

The JIT team’s plea, as quoted by the Pakistan media, is specious to the say the least.

Nobody is surprised by the Pakistani team’s excuses.

File image of Nawaz Sharif and Raheel Sharif. AFP

File image of Nawaz Sharif and Raheel Sharif. AFP

Nobody should be.

The reason for Pakistan’s chicanery is simple and straightforward. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is not in charge of Pakistan’s foreign and security affairs. The other Sharif is — Pakistan’s chief of army staff Raheel Sharif has wrested control of foreign affairs and defence from the prime minister.

It’s no secret in Islamabad. The division of labour between two Sharifs was effected at the end of 2014. Raheel had rescued the beleaguered prime minister from the joint agitation launched by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Tahirul Qadri’s Pakistani Awami Tehreek (PAT) calling for Nawaz’s dismissal. The army chief mediated between the government and the protesters to end the crisis and extracted his pound of flesh.

The army’s condition for mediation was that Raheel would be de facto in-charge of Pakistan’s foreign policy — including all security and defence policy including nuclear policy. Raheel also directly deals with the ongoing Afghan peace process. In October 2015, after Nawaz’s meeting with the President Barack Obama in Washington, Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper said in an editorial, “Worryingly, for the civilian dispensation and the democratic project, (Sharif) has appeared an increasingly peripheral figure in shaping key national security and foreign policy issues.”

Raheel has raised his profile as, perhaps, no other army chief, during the reign of an elected dispensation in Pakistan. The main reason for his rising profile is the relative success the army has achieved against terrorists during its Zarb-e-Azb campaign in North Waziristan and its success in restoring some semblance of order to Karachi. The chief of army staff is believed to have said at a meeting of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) — a London-based think tank — that Pakistan’s lack of governance required him to play the role of a “soldier statesman”.

The army chief accompanies Sharif on all his foreign visits. He travelled to Saudi Arabia and Iran with Sharif. It’s important to recall that he, and not Nawaz, offered to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran amid escalating disputes. He makes it a point to follow up the prime minister’s visits with his own trips to foreign nations. That’s because he is in charge of Pakistan’s foreign affairs; Nawaz is just a mask. He also followed up Nawaz’s meeting with Obama with his own trip.

The US State department and the Pentagon are reported to have held discussions with the army chief bypassing Nawaz. And it was much the same with China.

It may also be recalled that Raheel had conveyed his unhappiness to Nawaz after the latter hosted Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his Lahore home on 25 December last year without taking the army chief into confidence. The result was the Pathankot airbase attack on 2 January.

That’s why the Pathankot probe by the JIT Pakistan team is a charade. Who is Pakistan probing? Its own Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)?

The Pathankot attack wouldn’t have taken place without ISI and Pakistan’s military knowledge and complicity. Under these circumstances, one wonders whether the Modi government has taken a conscious decision to deal with the Pakistani army as an interlocutor and stakeholder. Or is Nawaz taking the Modi government for a ride? The Government of India should tell the Indian people the truth regarding whether it has indeed has chosen to make the Pakistani army the chief interlocutor in discussions about issues relating to cross-border terrorism and the involvement of Pakistan-based terror outfits in India.

By letting the JIT team visit India to collect evidence of the JeM’s involvement in the Pathankot attack, Modi can let his gamble play out. Let the NIA team pay a return visit to Pakistan. But rest assured, all this cat-and-mouse play will lead to nothing. The Modi government has a lot to answer for in light of the criticism that by allowing the JIT — with an ISI officer as its member — into India, the government has erred in making a distinction between the Pakistani state and non-state actors.

The government has fallen into the Pakistani army’s trap.

Pakistan’s ISI and the army are responsible for cross-border terrorism. Why this charade of collecting evidence?

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