THE SECURITY BRIEF

Vol. 8-Issue No 71

11th August, 2021

Editorial

HATEFUL HARANGUE AGAINST PAKISTAN

Ghani and Modi-Hand in glove

As the Taliban are taking over swaths of lands in Afghanistan and the Afghan armed forces are on the retreat, a planned and deliberate smear campaign has been unleashed to malign Pakistan for its alleged support to Taliban. It is being propagated that Taliban fighters cross-over from Pakistan and capture towns after town; and now the provinces. The Afghans and the rest of the world are being fed on preposterous propaganda through media and social media.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is the main architect of this propaganda campaign to conceal his incompetence and utter failure to face the onslaught of Taliban.  He and his hawkish cohorts have been spewing venom against Pakistan purposefully.  Afghan, Indian and some Western groups toe his line and are spreading the lies without any evidence. The absurdity of their claims is evident from the fact that most of the provinces taken over by Taliban are not adjacent to Pakistan and are in the north of Afghanistan. Logically, if the Taliban were coming from Pakistan, they should have captured the provinces adjacent or near to Pakistan, i.e., Nuristan, Nangarhar, Kunar, Paktika, Kandahar. The captured provinces, Samangan and Sar-e-Pul provinces are in the centre of the country, located north of the Hindu Kush mountains. Similarly, Jawzjan, Kunduz and Takhur provinces, which are now in control of Taliban, are at the other farthest end of Afghanistan and at the maximum distance from Pakistan. This single aspect is enough to demolish the fabricated and false allegations against Pakistan.

Albeit Pakistan has been facilitating the intra-Afghan peace talks and pushed the parties to come to the negotiating table, Pakistan’s influence over the Taliban is being over-estimated. Ever since Pakistan became an ally in the war against terror, Taliban gradually stopped relying on Pakistan. Afghan Taliban leaders and diplomats liked Abulsalam Zaeef, Taliban ambassador in Pakistan, were handed over to the US, who landed in notorious Guantanamo Bay prison, turned quite bitter against Gen.Pervez Musharraf and obviously Pakistan too.

 Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates were the three countries that had recognized Taliban government. But after the Taliban government was eliminated by the US/NATO attack, Pakistan, being the next-door neighbour, was the only country that had to bear the fall-out. Millions of Afghans were living here as refugees which included the former Afghan President Hamid Karzai too. It was a taxing task for Pakistan to handle, control and tackle all sort of Afghan groups.

Nevertheless, instead of appreciating Pakistan’s complicated position, the ungrateful elements, like Ashraf Ghani, are trying to make Pakistan a scape goat for their failures, incompetence and corruption. India has its own axe to grind therefore much arguments are not required to establish its reason to join the belligerent lot in Kabul. Some US and Western analysts, who have been thriving on Afghan war, need a face-saving for their skewed estimates, therefore have gleefully joined hands with the Ghani gang to accuse Pakistan for Taliban successes.

Pakistan should persistently refute the allegations at all forums with logic and evidence. More importantly the Afghan refugees in Pakistan should be activated to apprise their fellow countrymen in Afghanistan and the rest of the world of the actual situation. They should tell the world how Pakistan has embraced them with love and affection. They are not restricted to camps only. They are living in major cities of Pakistan and many have become affluent due to businesses they have done here. Their third generation is living peacefully in Pakistan. They are the best ambassadors to counter the malicious propaganda of ungracious Ashraf Ghani and his equally unappreciative cohorts.

Bomb blast kills two in Quetta

MSBIED (motor cycle borne improvised explosive device) attack targeted a police van in Serena Chowk, Quetta. Two policemen were killed and 12 others, including 8 policemen injured (8th August).Within four months, this is the second bomb blast in Quetta, almost at the same place. Previous bomb blast had taken place in Serena Hotel. It was said to be an attempt on the Chinese Ambassador in Pakistan, who was on visit to Quetta. It confirms that security and intelligence failures persist. There is likelihood of more such attacks in Balochistan in general and in Quetta in particular. Intelligence agencies should play their role actively to preempt the attacks. Their close and constant liaison with police and LEAs is a must to keep the terrorists at bay and make Quetta and other cities safe and secure.

AJK ELECTIONS

Former TTP/TTA associate elected member AJK assembly

Mazhar Saeed Sha @Abdullah Shah Mazhar

Mazhar Saeed Shah, who has been elected on ulema/mashaikh seat in AJK assembly on PTI ticket is alleged to be a former associate of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Previously he held important positions in Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and was linked with Afghan Taliban.   It is learnt that during his activities in Afghanistan he was known as Abdullah Shah Mazhar.  PPP Chairman, Bilawal Bhutto, severely criticized PTI for giving him the ticket. It will not go unnoticed by the world and the FATF. Why couldn’t we find anybody with less tarnished image?

Olympics distress

Talha Talib – Promising weight lifter

A Pakistani team of 10 players reached Tokyo to participate in Olympics, the most prestigious event of sports. None could fetch a medal of any kind. They returned home empty-handed. The entire nation is agonized, not only because the players couldn’t pull off a victory but there has been criminal apathy of the government toward the sports in Pakistan. The President Olympics Committee Lt Gen (retd) Syed Arif Hasan is perched on this post for last fourteen years and it has been an era of medals drought. There is a general complaint that players are not provided proper training and assistance. The two shinning stars of the team Pakistan who had inherent talent and could have shone if given proper facilities, were Talha Talib, weight lifter and Nadeem Arshad, javelin thrower. Both were neglected and they mostly relied on their own meagre resources to train themselves. At least bronze medals were within their reach, had they been supported properly.

This high time to reshuffle not only the Pakistan Olympics Committee but the entire sports system. Deadwood should be discarded. The concerned authorities should initiate their plans and efforts immediately to win medals in the Asian games and the next Olympics. We can find some good sponsors for the promising athletes, as done in cricket. We need to focus on our strong areas, which have gone weak, like hockey, squash, boxing, wrestling, weightlifting and now javelin throw.

Are the dissidents abroad really under threat?

Writer and analyst Ayesha Siddiqa

The British security sources have expressed concern that Pakistan might be prepared to target Pakistani exiles living in London. According to a report published by the British newspaper ‘The Guardian’ the Pakistani exiles living in London who have criticized the country’s powerful military have been warned that their lives are in danger. The renowned writer and analyst, Dr.Ayesha Siddiqa, based in London, has been warned by the Metropolitan police, that her life is in danger. The government of Pakistan has refuted these allegations and stated that as a responsible state, there is no question of any threat being made to any national of any state including Pakistan own nationals living anywhere on any pretext whatsoever.

Whether it is true or a smear campaign against Pakistan, the government of Pakistan must come up with strong but logical response to satisfy the British and European governments and the individuals feeling threatened. First of all, the Pakistan High Commission London should take up the matter with the British Foreign Office to ask for the evidence behind their concern and whether they  approached Pakistan High Commission to clarify it before scaring the individuals of threats to their lives? Secondly, the individuals named in the report and their families should be approached to ensure that no such action was being taken against them. Thirdly, if any department or individual has threatened these individuals, ought to be taken to task for taking unlawful actions.

LoC/IOJK (Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir)

 The situation remained peaceful at LoC where Pakistani and Indian troops continued their deployment in the forward posts, during the period under review. The situation in the occupied Kashmir remained disturbing as usual due to persistent state terrorism against the innocent people of the valley.

AFGHANISTAN                                

The Conflict Tracker

During the period under review Taliban managed to capture six provinces including Kunduz, Nimroz, Sar-e-Pul, Takhar and Samangan. The capitals of these provinces are also in their control. Police and army surrendered at Samangan without any skirmish.

Taliban took over possession of the palatial residence of warlord Abdul Rasheed Dostum and captured 28 trained horses, 12 bullet-proof vehicles, 3000 AK-47 and M-4 rifles and 88 rocket launchers, 116 Russian made heavy machine guns, 114 anti-aircraft guns, 28 vehicles and 56 motorcycles.

India shuts down last consulate in Afghanistan

India has shut down its consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif. It was the last Indian consulate which has been closed due to increasing violence in Afghanistan. Taliban have overrun six provinces in the north which caused fear in India because it had been siding with the Ashraf Ghani government against Taliban for the last many years. Last month India had called back its officials from Kandahar, a major city in southern Afghanistan. Now only the Indian embassy is operational in Kabul. Pakistan had been accusing India for running intelligence operations against Pakistan from some of its consulates in Afghanistan.

More Afghan refugees

According to an estimate half a million Afghans are likely to flee to Pakistan, Iran and Tajikistan, as the situation deteriorates in Afghanistan. NATO authorities fear that many would arrive EU, as it happened in 2015 in Syria crisis, and might again spark major political problems at home. The United Nations says that so far this year there have been no “large-scale displacements” across Afghanistan’s borders despite the Taliban’s advance. The EU official said that the number of arrivals from Afghanistan since the start of January was around 4,000, 25 per cent lower than in 2020.

Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf said in Washington that arrangements should be made to keep displaced Afghans inside their country instead of pushing them into Pakistan; it is the responsibility of the international community to create a secure area inside Afghanistan; why make them dar-ba-dar (homeless)? Make arrangement for them inside their country; Pakistan does not have the capacity to take more refugees.

INTERNATIONAL

Attack on Israeli ship-Iran denies

Israeli oil tanker ‘Mercer Street’ was attacked in Oman’s Gulf and two crew members were killed. The US, UK and Israel pointed the fingers at Iran and Hezbullahh (30th July). Situation is heating up in the Gulf. Iran has denied its involvement in this incident and categorically refuted the unfounded allegations. Iran has claimed that since Iran has declared the establishment of its new oil pipes line, it is currently able to refill its oil tankers without the need to pass through the Strait of Hormuz, under the observation of the American military bases in the (Persian) Gulf. This development has irked them all. The head of the aerospace force of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC), Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, warned that if they test Iran’s strength again, they will face a “tough response”. He asserted that Israel et al have failed to provide any evidence to confirm their allegations against Iran.

Coronavirus Crisis Update

  • The number of Covid-19 cases has decreased by 20 per cent in the country. It had surpassed 5,000 last week, has decreased by around 20pc.
  • The NCOC data showed that 86 deaths and 3,884 cases were reported in a single day and the number of active cases was 84,427 as of August 10. The national positivity was 7.84pc.
  • Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) has expressed concern over the rapidly increasing number of doctors falling prey to Covid-19.
  • Positivity rate for the virus swelled to 16.4 per cent in Peshawar and 13.4 per cent in Abbottabad (10th August). The health department has already invoked public health emergency law, to take strict action against the violators of the preventive measures. The province has already registered several cases of Delta (Delhi) variant of the virus, which has higher rates of mortalities and infections.
  • People need to be careful in Muharram and NCOC has advised to avoid majalis in closed places.

Pakistan’s Security Barometer

Terrorism: TTP and its affiliates have increased their terrorist activities in tribal areas, and major cities of Pakistan; trying to take advantage of uncertain times after the withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan.

Threat Level: High – due to national, international and regional security environment. The intelligence agencies must take proactive pre-emptive measures to unearth the networks and foil the evil designs of the terrorists.

Level of Sectarianism & Religious Extremism: Simmering through the society due to unbridled activities of the extremist sectarian and religious elements.

Border Situation:  Ceasefire at LoC. The Western border (Pak-Afghan), is becoming restive. Chaman border is closed by Afghan Taliban. Home grown terrorists, TTP, try to attack the check posts on Pak-Afghan border.

Health Security: The wave of Coronavirus is again on the rise. 

Social Unrest: Rising; primarily due to exorbitant price hike and political unrest. The constant rise in electricity, petrol tariffs, medicines and inflation has impacted all segments of society. Especially the salaried class and poor people are the worst sufferers.

Freedom of Press: Pakistan has dropped three places in the World Press Freedom Index (WPFI), since last year- 144th out of 180 countries in the world. 

Note: The Security Brief is based on open-source media reports

Editor: Dr. Naveed Elahi

Centre for Peace and Security Research. 131-Shadman II, Lahore.

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