The Sunni and Shia Horns

The head of Iran’s atomic energy organisation, one of the architects of the 2015 landmark nuclear deal, has warned the US to stop upsetting the regional balance of power by siding with Saudi Arabia.

Writing in the Guardian, Ali Akbar Salehi said “lavish arms purchases” by regional actors – a reference to the Saudi purchase of $100bn of US arms during Donald Trump’s recent visit to Riyadh – would be seen as provocative in Tehran and that it would be unrealistic to expect Iran to remain “indifferent”.

Salehi, an MIT graduate scientist who has also served as foreign minister, was the second most senior Iranian negotiator, dealing with technical aspects, during nearly two years of talks between Tehran and six of the world’s major powers that led to the final nuclear accord in Vienna in July 2015.

Although Trump has promised to “dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran”, he has not so far taken any concrete steps to scrap it. Last month, two days before Iran’s presidential election, his administration announced that it was continuing to waive nuclear-related sanctions under the agreement despite Washington toughening up its overall Iran policy.

Salehi said it was possible to rescue the deal’s engagement if it was met with reciprocal gestures. “Often following hard-won engagement, some western nations, whether distracted by short-sighted political motivations or the lucrative inducements of regional actors, walk away and allow the whole situation to return to the status quo ante,” wrote Salehi, who is also a vice-president of Iran.

Salehi warned of “chaotic behaviour” and “further tension and conflict” if the other side disregarded Iran’s security concerns, failed to adhere to its commitments and insisted on what he called alternative facts including ideas such as the “clash of civilisations”, “Sunni-Shia conflict”, “Persian-Arab enmity” and the “Arab-Israeli axis against Iran”.

His article comes at a time of simmering tensions in the Middle East, where relations between Tehran and Riyadh, which are on opposite sides of many regional conflicts such as the wars in Syria and Yemen, have deteriorated.

Trump’s first post-election foreign trip to Riyadh tilted the regional balance, and contributed in part to the diplomatic isolation of Qatar by Saudi Arabia and its allies, who have accused the tiny emirate of funding terrorists and appeasing Iran. Meanwhile, in Syria, Iran-backed militias and a coalition of forces led by Washington have collided a number of times in recent weeks while fighting Islamic State.

“Stoking Iranophobia” or failure to deliver on promises under the deal would jeopardise engagement, Salehi wrote. “We would all end up back at square one,” he cautioned. “Unfortunately, as things stand at the moment in the region, reaching a new state of equilibrium might simply be beyond reach for the foreseeable future.”

Salehi urged the outside world to take heed of the results of last month’s Iranian presidential election and the message Iranians sent, but he said “engagement is simply not a one-way street and we cannot go it alone”.

Iranian Terrorism is Here to Stay 

https://southfront.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Hezbollah.jpg

Military Intelligence head: Terrorism is here to stay

Arutz Sheva Staff, 22/06/17 19:11

The head of the IDF’s Intelligence Directorate, Major General Hertzi Halevi, spoke at the Herzliya Conference and addressed the security threats to Israel.

“Terror is here to stay,” Halevy said. “ISIS has lost territory and shrunk, but instead of an Islamic Caliphate, we see a virtual Caliphate. There is a clear connection between the pressure on Mosul and al-Raka and the wave of terrorism in Europe.”

According to him, the likelihood of an initiated war against Israel is low. “Power-building processes, especially in Gaza and Lebanon, transfer military power into irresponsible hands.Our enemies, who seek to deter Israel, are liable to bring upon themselves the next war.”

Today, Halevi said, wars begin and end differently. “These are wars with organizations. They do not start with a decision, but rather with a deterioration between the organizations. They do not end with a unilateral decision by paratroopers at the Western Wall.”

The head of Military Intelligence said that Iran, the Assad regime and Hezbollah constitute the main threat to the region, “with global funding and a major danger to the State of Israel. Iran is problematic not only because of the nuclear issue. It is in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.”

We see clearly that Hezbollah is building a military industry with Iranian knowledge, producing weapons and transferring them to southern Lebanon.

He said the terrorist attacks in Europe would continue for the foreseeable future.

Maj. Gen. Halevi said that Iran has been working in the past year to establish an infrastructure for the production of precise weapons in Yemen and in Iraq. “The nuclear agreement prohibits Iran from creating a certain weapon, but it produces other weapons. 20 countries are threatened by the deployment of Iranian Zelzal missiles.”

Addressing the recent Iranian missile strikes on ISIS targets, he said: “We saw it from medium range missiles. I think ISIS was hit hard. I ask myself: if Iran is so involved in Syria – why did not they strike from there? If it’s a show, it’s not clear it was so successful and it’s still disturbing.”

He also said that Israel has allowed more than seven million tons of construction material into Gaza in the three years since Operation Protective Edge. “How much of this has gone to the benefit of the civilians in Gaza? Do the children in Gaza receive a better education system? The answer is usually no. This is really a dilemma, since Israel has an interest in not having a crisis in Gaza.”

“The electricity dilemma reflects this well. On the one hand, the oxygen masks in the hospitals are connected to electricity, but the digging machines in the Hamas tunnels are connected to the same electricity. We have to let Hamas choose. We cannot let Hamas build an army so easily.”

The First Trigger for Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

Authored by Brian Cloughley via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The disputed of territory of Kashmir, lying in the north of the sub-continent between India and Pakistan, does not often feature in the world news media, but recently the little-known yet most sensitive region has received attention, not only because of boundary clashes between the armies of India and Pakistan but because there have been some dramatic incidents in the Indian-administered region. Tension is rising, as indicated by comments from politicians and media in both countries, which have been swinging from casual abuse to extremes of frenzied condemnation.

 

The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) in India is a right-wing, religiously-based ultra-nationalist political party with a large following which actively supports the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which bases its policies on the aspirations of a strongly nationalistic community. The leader of the VHP, Acharya Dharmendra, declared in a speech on June 2 that «India should drop a nuclear bomb on Pakistan for creating tension at the border. It is a rogue nation and India must teach that country a lesson. It is important for peace in the Indian subcontinent».

So far as can be determined, no Pakistani politician has yet made such a statement, publicly, at least, but the feeling in Pakistan as regards the use of nuclear weapons is much the same as in India: very many citizens of both countries believe that nuclear weapons just make a bigger bang. This is worrying, to put it mildly, especially as these two well-armed nations are squaring up to each other over the Kashmir imbroglio.

Before India and Pakistan became independent in 1947 there were some 560 feudal rulers of princely states, of which Kashmir was one of the few in which a Muslim majority were subjects of a Hindu maharajah. He decided to accede to India but the territory continued to be disputed between India and Pakistan, and remains in such status on the books of the UN Security Council.

The main UNSC resolution about Kashmir is 122 of 24 January 1957. It reminds the governments of India and Pakistan that «the final disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations».

India has tried for many years to convince the world that the 1972 India-Pakistan Simla Accord following their war of 1971 in some way invalidates UN Security Council resolutions regarding Kashmir. But the first paragraph of the Simla Agreement is «that the Principles and Purposes of the Charter of the United Nations shall govern the relations between the countries». Then it states that «the two countries are resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon between them» [emphasis added]. It is obvious that, contrary to Indian claims, there is no legal exclusion of the UN or any third party from mediation over Kashmir, given the covenant to include «any other means» towards settlement.

India, however, seized upon its selective interpretation of the wording of the Accord to unilaterally forbid the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to carry out its duties to «observe and report» on both sides of the line of Control dividing the disputed territory. That Mission has forty uniformed observers who investigate cease-fire violations on the Pakistan side, but are not permitted to operate in Indian-administered Kashmir. This state of affairs neutralises objective UN reporting about the region, and one has to ask the question : who benefits from that?

Indian-administered Kashmir is a scenically beautiful region which is economically self-supporting by virtue of food production, tourism, and export of world-class handicrafts — carpets and papier-mâché and carvings. Its citizens desire only fair governance, but over the years have become increasingly alienated from the Indian mainstream, and the recent increase in anti-India violence in the Valley is an indication of infuriated frustration. The insurgency has settled into a grumbling resentment with occasional outbreaks of forcefulness, and some barbaric incidents such as the recent unforgivable murder of a young man.

On 9 May 2017 a young Indian army officer was kidnapped and murdered. He was aged 22, recently commissioned, unarmed, and home to attend a family wedding in Indian-administered Kashmir when five men burst into his father’s house and overpowered him, took him away and shot him dead after treating him despicably.

Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz was an enlightened Kashmiri from a humble background who had made good because he was intelligent and hard-working. He was, of course, a Muslim, which made him doubly vulnerable to those evil fellow-Muslims who killed him. Their achievements were to plunge a family into grief, deprive the world of a good upright citizen, spread even deeper hatred throughout India, and demonstrate that they were vile savages who murdered a defenceless man. These reptiles are not freedom fighters. They are simply murderous criminals who lack any sort of morality and possess not a shred of compassion for their fellow human beings.

Which brings us to the treatment of another young man, Farooq Dar, a Kashmiri not much older than Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz, who survived to tell his tale, but also suffered at the hands of brutal bullies who had no fear of justice being applied.

According to the Economist, a reputable publication with no axe to grind in the India-Pakistan imbroglio over Kashmir, Mr Farooq Dar «suffered a severe beating» by Indian soldiers and was then «tied up on a spare tyre attached to the front bumper of an armoured jeep. Indian soldiers claimed he had been throwing stones. Mr Dar was driven in agony through villages… The soldiers reckoned the sight of him would deter others from throwing stones at their patrol».

By far the majority of the citizens of Indian-administered Kashmir who object to draconian Indian rule in the disputed territory are peaceful and want matters to be resolved politically, in accordance with Security Council Resolutions, but some have resorted to barbarism, and unfortunately the Indian army and paramilitary forces have lowered themselves to the level of the extremists. The use of pellet-firing shotguns to deliberately blind protestors was particularly malevolent, but in line with the recent statement by India’s army chief that «This is a proxy war and proxy war is a dirty war. It is played in a dirty way… You fight a dirty war with innovations». Like blinding people. The Indian Express reported that after one demonstration in 2016, doctors performed nearly 100 operations on people with pellet gun injuries. Sixteen had been blinded. Welcome to free Kashmir.

As Human Rights Watch observed, «a major grievance of those protesting in Kashmir is the failure of authorities to respect basic human rights», but the whole Kashmir catastrophe is about human rights, and it is time India and Pakistan devised a solution about the disputed territory. Countless lives would be saved if these governments eschewed the crude and dangerous attractions of ultra-nationalism and agreed to settle the dispute by referring it to independent arbitration. There is no possibility that India would ever agree to surrender the territory it occupies, because no Indian government would survive five minutes after making such a decision. Pakistan must live with the unpalatable fact that it has lost the territory and must make the best compromise.

At this moment the disagreement between India and Pakistan over Kashmir is one of the world’s most dangerous confrontations. It could only too easily lead to nuclear war, given Pakistan’s preparedness to use tactical nuclear weapons if Indian forces penetrate Pakistani territory, as they will probably do if there is a major fire-exchange incident along the Line of Control.

Then there will be a world catastrophe, because there is no such thing as a limited nuclear war.

The Line of Control in Kashmir should be declared the international border, with minor adjustments effected after independent mediation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan should meet and declare that the Kashmir imbroglio is over, and that the countries have agreed to go forward to mutually beneficial cooperation.

Then they could go to Norway to accept their Nobel Peace Prizes.

Why We Should Be Worried About Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

There are over 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world today, owned by nine nations; about 3,700 of them are deployed, ready to be delivered, by the USA and Russia. It is most likely that Palo Alto and the Bay Area are targets for nuclear missiles, ready to be launched by an unfriendly foreign power.

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) can deliver multiple bombs after traveling through the sky for thousands of miles; the latest Russian “Sarmat” carries 12 bombs equivalent to 40 megatons.

The Russian media boasted that the Sarmat is “capable of wiping out parts of the Earth the size of Texas or France.” That means just one ICBM could wipe out all of northern California!

Similarly one of the United States’ Minuteman ICBMs could destroy most of Moscow.

So why does the world need 15,000 nuclear weapons, when just a few will cause physical damage to huge swaths of land and the resulting cloud of radioactive material in the Earth’s atmosphere would drastically affect other areas of the globe?

During the so-called “Cold War” (1947-89) between the USSR and countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), nuclear deterrence was the concept that prevented any country from attacking another with a nuclear bomb — i.e., the possession of nuclear weapons prevents the possessor state from being attacked, simply because the opponent fears the response.

It could be argued that the absence of any nuclear catastrophe since 1946 can be attributed to luck rather than anything else. More than once during the Cold War the decision for or against the use of nuclear weapons was in the hands of one man, and one misinterpretation could have started a nuclear war. This dependence on the “finger” of one man remains the case today. NATO and Russia do not adhere to a No First Use policy; either could fire off a nuclear weapon to start a war.

What other aspects of nuclear weapons should give Palo Altans cause for concern? According to Palo Alto resident William J. Perry, who worked on nuclear weapons much of his life — as a defense contractor in Santa Clara County, as the Pentagon official in charge of weapons research during the Carter administration, and as secretary of defense (1994-97) under President Bill Clinton — we should be worrying about the world blundering into a nuclear war, which could happen through false alarms of incoming ICBMs, or errors in computer programs. We should also worry about terrorists accumulating enough fissile material to make a nuclear bomb and setting it off in central Washington, D.C.

Perry’s recent memoir, “My Journey at the Nuclear Brink,” describes how he became terrified by the current situation with nuclear weapons. Nuclear-security experts say we should worry about India and Pakistan, which have about 60 nuclear weapons each. These two neighboring countries have fought three major wars since they were created in 1947 and are still at loggerheads over the state of Kashmir. That is where the scourges of nuclear weapons and climate change could merge: A glacial melt in disputed Kashmir could destabilize agriculture and prompt conflict over water resources and electric power, which might bring India and Pakistan to a nuclear brink.

So what are the approximately 140 nations who don’t possess nuclear weapons, or aren’t protected by the “nuclear umbrella” of those who do, doing about nuclear weapons? They have considered the 1996 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice that “the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular to the principles and rules of humanitarian law.” This advisory opinion is based on the fact that nuclear weapons are by their nature indiscriminate; they don’t distinguish between noncombatants and combatants. Thus the use of nuclear weapons is generally considered to be illegal, and the United Nations General Assembly has started working on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, declaring that “it will be a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.”

The first draft of this most important treaty was released in Geneva, Switzerland, in May. The draft was developed through discussions among 132 nations at the UN headquarters last March. The negotiations resumed June 15 and are expected to continue until July 7.

The world has already banned biological weapons (1972), chemical weapons (1993), land mines (1997) and cluster munitions (2008). Now we must get rid of the worst weapons of all.

What am I doing to support this goal? There are four actions that you can do, too.

• The mission of the international organization Mayors for Peace (MfP) is to raise worldwide public awareness regarding the need to abolish nuclear weapons. MfP members are cities; there are 7,355 MfP member cities in 162 countries; 31 members are in California, including Berkeley, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Oakland, San Francisco and Santa Cruz. But Palo Alto withdrew from Mayors for Peace in 2013. Write to the Palo Alto mayor urging him to rejoin MfP.

• Stand on the corner of El Camino and Embarcadero in Palo Alto from noon to 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 17, to show your support for the UN treaty to ban the bomb.

• Join our local branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; write to wilpf.peninsula.paloalto@gmail.com to find out how.

• I don’t have enough space in this column to fully explain why Palo Altans should be very worried about nuclear weapons. You can find out more at reachingcriticalwill.org. And to scare you into action like I was scared, I recommend taking the free online course called “Living at the Nuclear Brink: Yesterday and Today,” created by the above-mentioned William J. Perry, available to start anytime by going to tinyurl.com/nuclearbrink17.

To quote Perry: “Today the danger of some sort of nuclear catastrophe is greater than it was during the Cold War and most people are blissfully unaware of this danger.”

Cherrill Spencer is the coordinator of the DISARM/Peace Committee of the Peninsula/Palo Alto Branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She can be reached at cherrill.m.spencer@gmail.com.

Iran Is Correct: We Created ISIS

isis-obama1Iran blames US for creating ISIS amid worsening Middle East tensions

The Upcoming Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

india-kashmir-guns_04d69974-3b70-11e7-99bd-b9a47f5fadcaWhy there can be no winners in a limited war between India and Pakistan

With the cross-border firing between India and a Pakistani making the headlines, some of the hotter heads in both countries have begun to argue, especially on social media, for an escalation of hostilities. The implication is that a limited war would somehow be decisive, by “teaching the other side a lesson, and making it behave.” But is a limited war possible?

The answer is proverbial – it is possible but the probability is very low. At the outset two fundamental points must be made.

First, nuclear weapon-armed states cannot fight a full-scale conventional war of annihilation or even absolute defeat of the adversary. However, below the “nuclear threshold” space exists for a limited war – limited in time, space and aims.

Second, a war is waged to achieve political aims. A war of retribution is a war without an aim.

The nature of war has undergone a change in the last two decades. What we face today is a Hybrid War which is a complex hybrid of conventional, asymmetric, information, political, diplomatic and economic warfare. It is fought as a continuum without timelines and fought simultaneously over the entire multi-dimensional spectrum of conflict.

India is already engaged in a Hybrid War with Pakistan. However, over the last 15 years we have remained well below the threshold of a limited war. Kargil,1999, was a classic limited war initiated by Pakistan. India also restricted its aim to restoration of status quo and won a victory both militarily and diplomatically. India planned a limited war as a reaction to the terrorist attack on Parliament on December 13, 2001, but could not go to war due to a combination of international pressure, political dithering, lethargic mobilisation and an unsure military.

Due to primordial religious emotions, the deprivation of Jammu and Kashmir in 1947 and its dismemberment in 1971, Pakistan considers India as an enemy state and its political aim is to seize Jammu and Kashmir and achieve international parity with India. It has an unambiguous National Security Strategy to wage a Hybrid War backed by military, political and public consensus. Essential features of its strategy are: wage a deniable fourth generation warfare (4GW) in Jammu and Kashmir and hinterland of India; avoid a limited war and if it is forced upon it, stalemate India with conventional capability, “irrational nuclear brinkmanship”, and actual use of tactical nuclear weapons if required.

India’s political aim in relation to Pakistan is simple – prevent it from interfering in its internal affairs through a Hybrid War and if it does so, maintain good relations. To achieve its political aim India’s strategic options are: contain the 4GW being waged by Pakistan; surgical strikes in POK/Pakistan; wage a counter 4GW in Pakistan; and wage a proactive limited war to compel Pakistan to stop a 4GW in India.

Pakistan has the capacity to respond in a quid pro quo manner to all Indian threats/actions below a limited war while continuing to wage 4GW in Jammu and Kashmir. Given its military limitations, it is disadvantageous for it to initiate a war. Thus the onus is on India, either to accept status quo or to force compliance through a limited war. And this is the scenario – a limited war with a nuclear backdrop – that worries the world most. Will a limited war be cost-effective and decisive enough to force compliance on Pakistan? That the Indian government including the present one has not exercised this option despite the 1,000 cuts, answers this question.

Can a major change in the strategic situation force the Indian government to initiate a limited war? The casus belli could be a 26/11 type of terrorist attack or the situation in Jammu and Kashmir going completely out of hand. Since terrorism is calibrated by the ISI it is unlikely to repeat 26/11 and doomsday predictions notwithstanding, despite the “intifada” the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is militarily well under control. Can charged political and public emotions force the government’s hand? In my view the present political leadership while exploiting and manipulating public emotions, is smart enough not to fall prey to them.

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Since the probability of a limited war is very low, let me paint a hypothetical scenario. The year is 2022. Indian economy has grown at 8-10 per cent. Major national security reforms have been undertaken. Armed Forces have been restructured and reorganised, and a clear technological military edge over Pakistan has been established. Situation in Jammu and Kashmir is under control but Pakistan continues to bleed us with 1,000 cuts. International environment is in favour of “war on ‘terrorism’ “.

India has decided to adopt a strategy of “compellence” against Pakistan through a proactive limited war. The political aim is to compel Pakistan to peace on own terms. Essentials of likely politico military strategy: the war will be initiated as a pre-emptive strategic offensive; maximum territory will be captured in POK for permanent retention; a belt of 20 kilometre relative to tactical objectives will be captured across the IB for post war negotiations; maximum damage will be caused to Pakistan’s war waging potential particularly its Air Force, Navy and mechanised forces; maximum damage will be caused to Pakistan’s economic potential; all objectives will be achieved in 10 days, however, prolonged operations may be undertaken in POK; Armed Forces must be prepared for use of Tactical Nuclear Weapons by the enemy.

Until the conditions for this hypothetical scenario are created it may be prudent to continue with “strategic restraint”.

Lt Gen H S Panag, PVSM,AVSM (Retired), is a former Army commander, Northern Command and Central Command

The views expressed are persona

Pakistan Is Not An Ally But A Nuclear Threat

A new report titled authored by ten South Asia experts from top US think tanks noted, “Pakistan’s use of terrorist groups as part of its security and foreign policy is a function of its obsession with India, which it perceives as an existential threat”.

This further defeats US efforts to maintain peace in Afghanistan, it added. It further termed Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal a concern.

Background: Pakistan: A state-sponsor of terrorism

Countries including India and the US have constantly accused Pakistan of using terror to achieve political objectives

Along with independent organizations, quarters within the Trump administration have been calling out Pakistan for supporting home-grown terror.

Pakistan’s ISI is said to have connections with groups including the Haqqani network and Lashkar-e-Taiba and played a role in the 2001 Parliament attacks and the 26/11 attacks.

Fact: Pakistan’s Inter-services Intelligence

ISI, established in 1948 is Pakistan’s largest intelligence agency. ISI has aided terrorism since the 80s when along with the US, it aided the Afghan Mujahideens to fight Soviets in Afghanistan, paving for emergence of organizations like Al Qaeda later on.

12 May 2017: Pak-based terror groups threat to US, India: US intelligence report

The US intelligence community in the “Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community” annual report called out Pakistan for supporting anti-India militants.

The report also expressed concerns on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons arsenal and the likelihood of them falling into terrorists hands.

It further warned against persistent threats from Pak-based terror groups to the US and the West.

07 Jun 2017: Pakistan not an ally, but a threat: US think-tank report

A Report published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies accused Pakistan of harbouring terrorist groups including the Haqqani network and Taliban. It further termed Pakistan more of a threat than an ally.

“The US should make it clear to Pakistan that it faces a total end to aid, and the imposition of sanctions, if it continues to support these organizations”, it added.

The Coming Nuclear War of Revelation 8

Citizens from the Balochistan, a large province of the southwestern region of Pakistan, particularly those from the Chagai district, refer to May 28 as “black day.” This is because many of them suffer the consequences of the explosions set out off by the Pakistani government in a mountains nearby 19 years ago. Many of them have developed serious diseases ranging from blood and skin cancer to typhoid as a result of the test’s nuclear radiation fallout.

Pakistan embarked on its pursuit for nuclear weapons in the early 1970s after its powerhouse regional nemesis — who also happens to be its neighbor — India, introduced nuclear weapons into the South Asia scene. The successful nuclear weapons testing by India, with whom Pakistan has two fought bloody wars and is still embroiled in conflict over the territory of Kashmir with, was used by Pakistani leaders as a justification for the Muslim state to construct its own nuclear deterrent to forestall possible Indian aggression.

International observers and statesmen have called for the easing of tensions between both countries, lest a nuclear war, or at least the very serious threat of a nuclear war, break out between them.

Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program has however been on the receiving end of support from a rather unlikely patron: the United States. It has been widely reported that billions of dollars of aid provided to Pakistan by the US government is often siphoned off to nourish its nuclear program.

Back in 2009, a senior US national security adviser from the Obama administration was quoted as saying that “most of the aid we’ve sent them [Pakistan] over the last few years has been diverted into their nuclear program.” Most of the aid full under the rubric of “coalition support funds” for Pakistani military mission against Taliban insurgents, but it has been substantially reported that a lot of the aid has been handed over to the Pakistani government without the US asking for accountability on spending.

Moreover, the international community has long suspected Pakistan of providing assistance to the North Korea in its endeavor to construct a nuclear bomb. Pakistan is one of the few countries in the world to have both a diplomatic and economic relationship with Pyongyang, which stems back to the 1970s.

To try and combat the possible clandestine provision of nuclear materials to North Korea by Pakistan, the Untied Nations Security Council passed a Resolution in 2006 and another in 2016 aimed at investigating Islamabad’s role in helping North Korea edge closer to the bomb. It also possible, and some fear that, given Pakistan’s recent success in testing a nuclear device, that valuable tech know-how could be handed over.

There has been a great deal of saber-rattling between Pakistan and India over the possibility of a nuclear exchange.

In late 2016, a skirmish over Kashmir between Indian and Pakistani troops resulted in the death of 18 soldiers, which caused India to promise “surgical strikes” on suspected militant positions in Pakistan. In January of this year, Pakistani officials threaten to use nuclear weapons against India when secret Indian plans for attacking its neighbor in the event of a crisis were leaked.

Thus, considered within the context of mutual India-Pakistan nuclear threats, the latest of new of Islamabad’s successful nuclear test in the Balochistan region will undoubtedly unsettle international observers, not to mention the Pakistanis and Indians themselves.

Pakistani Terrorism is Alive and Well

Pakistan is ‘harbouring terrorists’, using them as ‘reserve’ in Afghan: US intelligence official

Pakistan is 'harbouring terrorists', using them as 'reserve' in Afghan: US intelligence official (Source: PTI)

Washington :  A top US intelligence official has told lawmakers that Pakistan is “harbouring terrorists” and using them as “reserve” in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan views Afghanistan or desires for Afghanistan some of the same things we want: a safe, secure, stable Afghanistan. One addition — one that does not have heavy Indian influence in Afghanistan”, Lt Gen Vincent Stewart, Director, Defense Intelligence Agency told members of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee during a Congressional hearing on worldwide threats.

“They view all of the challenges through the lens of an Indian threat to the state of Pakistan”, Stewart said.

“So they (Pakistan) hold in reserve terrorist organisation –– we define them as terrorist organisations, they hold them in reserve so that — if Afghanistan leans towards India, they will no longer be supportive of an idea of a stable and secure Afghanistan that could undermine Pakistan interest”, Stewart said.

He said Pakistan needs to be told very clearly that Afghanistan’s security and stability is in the interest of all of the parties in the region and does not pose a risk to Pakistan.

“We’ve got to convince Pakistan that if they’re harbouring any of the Haqqani network members that it is not in their interest to continue to host of Haqqani network, that we ought to be working together to go after those 20 terrorist organisations that undermine not just Afghanistan, not just Pakistan, but all of the region”, he said.

“And so we’ve to make sure we’re pushing them to do more against the Haqqani network. Then (they should) separate the Taliban from the Pashtun, which want a Pashtun dominated Afghanistan,” he said.

“So we’ve got to get the conversation going again with Pakistan about their role in not harboring any of these terrorists, helping to stabilise Afghanistan”, he added.

Hoping that US may have some progress in this, Stewart said Pakistan also have some influence in bringing the Taliban to the peace table.

“So, we’ve got to get them to think about reconciliation, that the status quo is not in their best interest”, he said.Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence said there is need to evaluate how to address the situation of Pakistan harbouring terrorist.

“I think certainly an evaluation of how we work with Pakistan to address the situation of the harbouring of terrorist groups would be essential to a strategy that affects Afghanistan, going forward in Afghanistan”, he said in response to a question.

“Because that is potentially a very disrupting situation, putting our own troops at risk and undermining the strategy of dealing with the Taliban and local groups that are trying to undermine the government”, Coats said.

First Published: Wednesday, May 24, 2017 10:50 AM

One People, Two Nations, Two Bombs (Revelation 8)

Image result for nuclear pakistanDangerous nuclear rivalry

By Talat MasoodPublished: May 31, 2017

The writer is a retired lieutenant general of the Pakistan Army and a former federal secretary. He has also served as chairman of the Pakistan Ordnance Factories Board

Nearly two decades ago, Pakistan conducted its first nuclear tests on 28th May 1998. These were in response to India’s nuclear tests that had taken place two weeks earlier. The government touted it as a great achievement and the public went ecstatic. There was a reason for that “celebration”. When India exploded its bomb their public went wild and politicians and commentators were boastful that they had joined ranks of the five major powers. They were also taunting Pakistan that its programme was fake and provoking it to call its bluff. Despite enormous pressure from United States and other Western countries, the then PML government decided to go ahead and carried out six underground nuclear explosions—one more than the Indians.

Similar scenes of joy and exaltation were experienced in Pakistan. The Indian public and politicians were embarrassed as they had thought they had monopoly of nuclear technology and expertise.

Nineteen years later, however, the mood of the Pakistani nation is more sober and the government’s recall of the event more tempered. It shows that Pakistan has matured as a nuclear power and realises the huge responsibility that rests on it as a consequence of this capability.

We also should not forget the enormous sacrifice that the nation had to make in order to acquire this capability. The world singularly was targeting Pakistan. It had a different yardstick for India and as regards Israel it was as though it had an inherent right to be a nuclear power. Nothing exposes the double standards of world powers as in respect of their applying one standard for India and Israel and a completely different one for others in case of acquisition of strategic power. By terming Pakistan’s nuclear capability as an Islamic bomb, the West exposed its outright prejudice. In all truth, the country’s power elite made serious errors of judgment that continue to haunt us to date. We are still paying the price for the irresponsible conduct of AQ Khan in dealing with sensitive nuclear matters. More so, a serious reappraisal of our entire foreign, defence and security policies was necessary to make it compatible with the new power that the country had acquired.

The decision to support the Afghan Jihad had several dimensions. Desperate to seek legitimacy from the outside world, General Ziaul Haq joined the US-led coalition against the Soviet Union which provided him cover and more significantly acted as an umbrella to pursue the nuclear programme. Not that the Reagan administration or the CIA was not aware of the programme but they looked the other way. There was a greater and higher strategic goal of dismantling the Soviet empire that the US was pursuing and Pakistan was a convenient surrogate. In short, there was a convergence of interests and Pakistan took full advantage of it. By the time American interest in Pakistan had subsided, Pakistan had already made sufficient progress in its quest for achieving nuclear autonomy. Although this is history it still casts a heavy shadow on Pakistan’s nuclear programme as viewed through the western lens. Several additional challenges that Pakistan faces are related to its nuclear capability.

The spread of terrorist groups in the Afghan-Pakistan theatre have allowed the US and western think tanks to raise the spectre of nuclear material or weapons falling in their hands. With Da’ish making inroads in Afghanistan and TTP and some other Pakistani groups associating with them various scenarios related to attack on nuclear installations or seizure of sensitive material are projected. Pakistan is aware of these contingencies and has taken all possible measures to safeguard its nuclear assets. The US has repeatedly acknowledged Pakistan’s safety and security measures as being satisfactory and in conformity with international standards. It has even assisted in improving these by providing financial and technical assistance. What then are its apprehensions and are these to be taken seriously or brushed aside as outright bias?

For there is a strong conviction among some quarters that the West is still not reconciled to Pakistan’s nuclear capability. At the same time, we cannot ignore the reality that Da’ish and some other militant groups could aim at seizing nuclear material. But Pakistan is fully aware of these contingencies and has repeatedly assured the international community and the domestic audience that it has taken comprehensive measures to make its nuclear installations and material fully safe and secure.

Pakistan is justifiably opposed to the discriminatory attitude of Western nuclear powers towards it. India being a strategic ally of US has been given several exemptions under the 123 Agreement. India agreed to separate its civil and military nuclear facilities and place its civil nuclear facilities under the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards. In exchange, Washington agreed to extend full cooperation in the field of civil nuclear projects and technology. New Delhi was allowed to continue with its military nuclear programme without any checks or oversight.

Whereas when Pakistan seeks similar concessions it is denied on one pretext or the other. Lately, the development of tactical nuclear weapons has been a subject of intense criticism by US and western think tanks. As is well known, this capability was developed as an antidote to the Cold Start doctrine. Certainly, this has prevented India from taking an adventurous course. But there is always a lurking danger that the militant group acting on its own could strike in India, raising the possibility of it eventually leading to a nuclear exchange. Clearly, Pakistan has taken several measures to clamp the activities of non-state actors. But with the level of atrocities being committed by India in Kashmir and the anger and frustration that it generates across the border, it would not be surprising that such attacks may still occur. The constant firing on the Line of Control and India’s refusal to engage in dialogue and isolate Pakistan diplomatically have the potential of moving the minute hand of Doomsday clock a few seconds forward.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2017.

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