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Defence Minister Johnston and Australia’s role in Pakistan September 27, 2013

Posted by southasiamasala in : Afghanistan, Gordon, Sandy, India, Pakistan , comments closed

Sandy Gordon

As we wind down in Afghanistan after a twelve-year war, new Defence Minister David Johnston reportedly says we need to keep our counter-insurgency skills honed, including for possible use in Pakistan (SMH, 21 September 2013).

Mr Johnston and his advisers need to think such statements through. Does he mean a limited role in advising Pakistan on counter-insurgency or does he envision a more robust involvement in maintaining stability? Either way, there is no useful role for Australia, either singly or in concert with its friends and allies.

Pakistan is both a supporter of the insurgency in Afghanistan and involved in counter-insurgency against groups like the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) within Pakistan.

In the former role, the Pakistani military and its intelligence service, the ISI, support Afghan anti-government groups like the Haqqani network and harbour the Taliban leadership in Quetta. US intelligence believes the Haqqani network, with support from the ISI, was involved in the bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul in 2008, in which 58 died. The network also allegedly killed the Karzai government’s chief peace envoy, Burhanuddin Rabbani.


Perceptions from Islamabad: Pakistan’s twin objectives in the Afghan endgame. June 14, 2012

Posted by southasiamasala in : Afghanistan, Motwani, Nishank, Pakistan , comments closed

Nishank Motwani

The NATO summit held in Chicago last month confirmed that NATO’s combat forces would be withdrawn by the end of 2014, leaving behind an unknown number of training units in Afghanistan. As the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force’s (ISAF) mission to hand over combat command to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) draws closer, Pakistan is shifting gears to protect its strategic interests in the Afghan endgame. Understanding Islamabad’s objectives is thus essential to evaluate where it stands and how and why its defined ends oppose the desired goals of Afghanistan and its US-led ISAF stakeholders.

Map of Pashtun majority areas (in green)


Syed Saleem Shahzad speaks from the grave June 1, 2011

Posted by sandygordon in : Gordon, Sandy, Pakistan , comments closed

Sandy Gordon

Syed Saleem Shazad was a Pakistani journalist whose body was recently found in a canal 150 kilometres from his home in Islamabad.  He had been tortured prior to being killed.  He wrote for an Italian news agency, Adnkronos International and, more prominently, Asian Times Online, the on-line, Hong Kong-based successor to The Asian Times.  He was killed either by the Pakistani intelligence or the militants – that much is certain. Either way, his killing gives considerable credibility to recent work from his pen.  It is therefore important to examine that work to see exactly what it was that got his killers offside, since another certainty arising from his death is that at least part of what he had to say has struck a very raw nerve somewhere.

Syed Saleem Shahzad