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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.

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The politics of the India-Pakistan peace talks August 23, 2013

Posted by nishankmotwani in : By contributor, Future Directions International, Guest authors, India , comments closed

Lindsay Hughes

Despite the best will of the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan, their attempts at creating a relatively stable relationship have been hijacked by various factions on both sides.

Background

Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, has repeatedly stated, even before he won the last general election, that he wishes to create a better relationship with India. This, he alleged, was crucial to Pakistan’s economic development. India’s Prime Minister has echoed this sentiment. From his perspective, better ties with Pakistan will enable India to concentrate on the “China threat” along its northern and north-eastern borders with that state. Also, the economic benefits to be accrued from a better relationship with Pakistan make it an attractive goal. Unfortunately for both Prime Ministers, though, forces in both countries are working, deliberately or otherwise, against such a resolution of their differences. Attempts at peace-making are no longer a diplomatic issue, but a highly politicised endeavour. (more…)

Diplomatic damage from latest India-Pakistan border clashes August 21, 2013

Posted by nishankmotwani in : By contributor, Future Directions International, Guest authors, India , comments closed

Stephen Westcott

The recent killing of five Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops has put the Indian Government under pressure. The incident is likely to cause the suspension of the scheduled dialogue between the two countries.

Background

On 6 August 2013, five Indian soldiers were shot dead in an ambush in Indian-controlled Kashmir, near the India-Pakistan Line of Control (LoC). While it is unclear who was responsible for the attack, blame has been attributed to either militants backed by the Pakistan Army, or the Pakistani Special Forces themselves. Although Pakistan has denied any involvement and its Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, has sent his condolences over the killings, tensions have markedly increased. Intermittent exchanges of small arms fire across the LoC have occurred throughout the week, wounding several soldiers and civilians. The most recent incident occurred on 11 August, with both sides using machine guns.

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A LOC-al affair – and India lacks a covert capability for use against Pakistan January 25, 2013

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Pakistan, Snedden, Christopher , comments closed

Christopher Snedden

The recent India-Pakistan aggression and hostilities over the Line of Control (LOC) that divides the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) appear to have come out of nowhere. Or have they? What is essentially a local incident – of which, if history tells us anything, there indubitably will be more in future – may have serious ramifications for India, if one Indian analyst is to be believed (see below).

According to a well-informed Indian journalist, the recent India-Pakistan incidents on the LOC were instigated last September when a Kashmiri grandmother managed to cross the heavily fortified LOC from Indian J&K to Pakistan-Administered Azad Kashmir. (See Praveen Swami, ‘Runaway grandmother sparked savage skirmish on LoC’, The Hindu, 10 January 2013. Importantly, Indian troops failed to detect her crossing. Thereafter, the Indians built observation bunkers ‘to monitor the movement of [nearby] villagers’. Pakistani forces disliked these bunkers and started to fire at both them and their inhabitants, i.e. Indian soldiers.

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Politics grips Pakistan January 20, 2012

Posted by southasiamasala in : Guest authors, Pakistan , comments closed

Alicia Mollaun, Crawford School, ANU

Reprinted from Inside Story. Read the full article

Back in Islamabad after spending Christ mas and New Year in Australia, I find that the “Memogate” scandal is on everyone’s lips and relations between the military and the ruling Pakistan People’s Party have continued to deteriorate. The controversial memo, leaked to Pakistan’s media late last year and allegedly authosed by President Asif Ali Zardari, sought the assistance of the Obama administration in pressuring senior military and intelligence figures to “end their brinkmanship aimed at bringing down the civilian apparatus.”

With US–Pakistan relations already fraught, the release of the memo whipped the media into a frenzy, fuelling speculation that the prime minister would sack the chief of the army and that the military, in response, would unseat the government. For the embattled civilian government, the scandal opened up a new and destabilising front.

Civil–military relations have always been uneasy in Pakistan, a nation that has been ruled for over half of its existence by the military. No democratically elected government has ever been replaced with another democratically elected government, and governments rarely serve a full term before being ousted. All of which can make living in Pakistan depressing and at the same time fascinating.

Read the full article in Inside Story.

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

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