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Archive | July, 2010

Syed Salahuddin’s ultimatum

With or without you.

Hizb-ul-Mujahideen’s ameer Syed Salahuddin issued an ultimatum to the Pakistani establishment: support us in Kashmir, or pursue peace talks with India. One or the other — not both. Roznama Ausaf’s editorial advices the Pakistani government:

Syed Salahuddin asks of our government where its loyalties lie —  “if Pakistan intends to pursue friendship with India, then let it stop advocating on behalf of Kashmiris.” Our leaders must understand that rekindling talks with India will not result in peace with that nation, but with it renouncing its support for Kashmir’s independence. [روزنامہ اوصاف]

The ultimatum itself is meaningless, given that the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen is a fully owned and operated entity of the ISI and that Mr. Salahuddin has lived in Pakistan for well over ten years. The group’s role in the on-going security situation in J&K is an act of direct provocation from Pakistan’s military-jihadi complex. The Indian government would do well to consider to what extent it can afford to “insulate dialog from terror,” given the structure of the ongoing India-Pakistan talks and the probability of further state-sponsored attacks in J&K, and perhaps even in major Indian cities.

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Hafiz Saeed under house arrest?

Is he is or is he ain’t?

Predictably,  in response to the Data Darbar attacks in Lahore, the government in Punjab made all the right noises about eradicating terrorism from the province.  Earlier, Interior Minister Rehman Malik traded barbs with Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif on his use of the term “Punjabi Taliban.”  The nomenclature did not sit well with the government in Punjab; the Taliban, they claimed, had no identity and references to Punjab hurt the sentiments of its residents.

Nonetheless, nominal steps were taken to curb extremism in the province.  A news report in the Jang elaborated:

The Punjab Home Department has “banned” 17 organizations; these include Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Tehrik-e-Jafria Pakistan, Tehrik-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammed, Millat-e-Islamiya Pakistan, Islamiya Tehrik-e-Pakistan, Hizb-ul-Tehrir, Jamaat-ul-Ansar, Jamaat-ul-Furqan, Islamic Students Movement, Baluchistan Liberation Army and Jamaat ud-Dawwa.

This list does not include Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), despite statements made by Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, which indicate that the TTP and al-Qaeda have collaborated with Sipah-e-Sahiba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in Punjab.According to the Home Department, there are approximately 4,000 individuals with relations to these terror groups.  These individuals have been placed under surveillance, per Section 4 of the Anti-Terrorism Act and they have been banned from carrying out such activities. [جنگ]

Almost equally predictably, an editorial in the Jang’s sister publication, The News, went soft when news broke, contrary to previous reports, that the Jamaat ud-Dawwa had not been banned.  The editorial reasons:

The JuD and other organizations may not be behind direct acts of militancy. It is also a fact that they are engaged in many good works that bring solace to many everywhere. Hindu women in Sindh have recently demonstrated in their favour. [The News]

So Hindu women from Sindh demonstrating in JuD’s favor is reason enough to absolve them of the massacre of several hundreds of civilians in the name of religion and state?  Something to keep in mind the next time someone gives you the old “we’re both victims of terror” spiel.  While these events unfold, the federal and state civilian administrations are anxious to demonstrate their capacity for action against terror groups.  PML (N) leader Nawaz Sharif called for a “national conference” on terrorism, which Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Yusuf Raza Gilani has accepted.

But should it surprise anyone that Messrs. Gilani and Kayani are simply waiting for the storm to blow over?  Prior to this “national conference,” Mr. Gilani was busy ruling out military operations in South Punjab,  while Shahbaz Sharif went even further and denied the existence of the so-called “Punjabi Taliban.”

One wonders what the big purpose of this “national conference” is then.  Half the terror groups that should have been part of an offensive (including the TTP/ al-Qaeda affiliates and JuD) have already been given a clean chit and in any case, there’s not going to be any military action against the groups that did end up making it to the Punjab Home Department’s list of “banned” groups.

A month from now, everything will be forgotten and it will be business-as-usual.  Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

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In Pragati: The return of the Ottoman

In the July 2010 issue of Pragati, I review Turkey’s transformation from a status-quoist, West-leaning, secular-nationalist state to one that seeks to become a regional power and indeed, a “Muslim superpower.” Its confrontations with Israel, most recently over the Gaza flotilla raid, involvement in negotiating a way forward in Afghanistan, and its attempts, along with Brazil, at brokering a deal with Iran over the nuclear impasse all point to a Turkey eager to break the shackles of the Kemalist ideology that has guided it since its birth in 1923.

But Turkey’s geo-strategic reorientation has consequences far beyond its region.  Indeed, its involvement now in Afghanistan, historic cultural and military ties to Pakistan and its location at the crossroads of Central Asia’s energy trade make it very important to India.  How must India view Turkey’s rise and what opportunities and challenges exist in India’s bilateral relations with Turkey?

Turkey’s strategic reorientation is also significant to countries outside its region. Two aspects of Turkey’s rising profile stand out for India—regional stability and energy security. On regional stability, Turkey historically has had close cultural, ideological and military ties with Pakistan. It has provided arms, equipment and training to the Pakistani armed forces. Turkey came to Islamabad’s assistance during the latter’s 1965 war with India and provided it with significant quantities of ammunition. A member of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Turkey routinely supports Pakistan’s narrative, endorsing a plebiscite and voicing concern over “the use of force against the Kashmiri people.” The exclusion of India from the Istanbul Summit on Afghanistan at the insistence of Pakistan, also underscores the leverage Pakistan enjoys in Ankara.

Read more about it in this month’s Pragati ( PDF; 1.3 MB)

Turkey’s strategic reorientation is also significant
to countries outside its region. Two aspects of Turkey’s
rising profile stand out for India—regional stability and
energy security. On regional stability, Turkey historically
has had close cultural, ideological and military ties with
Pakistan. It has provided arms, equipment and training to
the Pakistani armed forces. Turkey came to Islamabad’s
assistance during the latter’s 1965 war with India and
provided it with significant quantities of ammunition. A
member of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference
(OIC), Turkey routinely supports Pakistan’s narrative,
endorsing a plebiscite and voicing concern over “the use of
force against the Kashmiri people.” The exclusion of India
from the Istanbul Summit on Afghanistan at the insistence
of Pakistan, also underscores the leverage Pakistan enjoys
in Ankara.
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Link Digest: July 3, 2010

Haqqani, Data Darbar, F-16s, Blackwater and the Narayanpur CRPF ambush.

Your weekly link digest:

  • Haqqani talks: The leaks are important but so is the leaker: Is Sirajuddin Haqqani in negotiations with Hamid Karzai?  Greg Carlstrom reviews.
  • Data Darbar — The target-in-waiting gets hit: Amil “Londonstani” Khan shares interesting perspectives on the July 1 Data Durbar shrine attack in Lahore.
  • F-16s debilitating conditionalities: Apparently, you can please some people none of the time.  Dr. Shireen Mazari is unhappy about the conditions-attached F-16s delivered to the Pakistani Air Force. Meanwhile, despite Sec. Robert Gates’ assurances to New Delhi, PAF’s Air Chief Rao Qamar Suleman unilaterally declared that his country was free to use these aircraft as it pleased (اردو).
  • Peace sacrificed in shrine attack: Syed Saleem Shahzad writes about the Data Darbar attacks, though the interesting bits of this article lie in last section of the article.  If accurate, it would mean that private defense contractors from the U.S. are attempting to establish operations in South Punjab.
  • Military power: key to India’s future: Bharat Verma highlights the challenges India faces as its profile on the global stage grows.
  • The Forest is Moving: Saikat Datta laments on the structural decay of the CRPF after yet another Maoist ambush resulted in 27 deaths in Narayanpur, Chhattisgarh.
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