Afghanistan Govt Claims To Have Killed Taliban Leader With Multiple Lives

[Afghan Govt forces today claimed in the Chinese press to have killed noted Taliban Leader, Mullah Mohibullah (follower of Dadullah), a former inmate of Guantanamo, who has already been reported to have been killed in 2010 and again in 2011.  Mentally unbalanced inmate, Pfc. David Lawrence
Pfc. David Lawrence

probably regrets having killed Mohibullah the first time, when he executed him in his cell in Afghanistan in 2010.   Mohibullah’s last execution was in 2011, when he was reportedly eliminated in a high-publicity airstrike, allegedly intended to be against the guy who shot-down a Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan, killing 25 members of Seal Team 6.  Since they missed the guy who fired the lethal rpg, they had to have a high-level Taliban to offer to the press gods. 

Too bad, the Afghan Govt didn’t do their research before killing Mullah Mohibullah for the third time.]

4 Afghan Taliban militants including group commander killed

Xinhua net

GHAZNI, Afghanistan, April 30 (Xinhua) — Four Taliban militants including a group commander have been killed as clash erupted in Ander district of the eastern Ghazni province on Saturday, an army spokesman in the province Mohammad Hanif Rezae said.

“Taliban rebels stormed some checkpoints of national army in Gilan and Andar districts early Saturday and the troops returned fire killing four insurgents including a group commander Mullah Mohibullah and injuring three others,” Rezae told Xinhua.

The official however asserted that no security personnel had been hurt in the firefight.

Taliban militants who are active in parts of Ghazni province and have been fighting the government forces, are yet to make comment.

Afghan Pres. Ghani Calls On Pakistan To Kill Or Arrest Afghan Taliban In Pakistan, Or Else

“Let me clarify this today – we are not expecting Pakistan to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table. We, however, call on Pakistanis to keep the promises they made in the quadrilateral agreement and carry out military operations against those who, according to our intelligence organizations, the intelligence organizations of our international partners and senior Pakistani officials, have centres inside Pakistan and whose leaders are residing inside Pakistan.”

Ghani’s Speech to the Parliament: A hardening position on war, peace and Pakistan

afghan analyst network

President Ghani’s speech to the Afghan houses of parliament, as broadcast live on state-owned National Afghanistan TV on 25 April 2016 (translated by BBC Monitoring)

In the name of Almighty Allah, the most compassionate, the most merciful.

[President Ghani begins in Pashto] Your Excellences, [Speakers] Mr Ebrahimi, Mr Moslemyar, [Vice-President] Mr Danesh, Mr Chief Justice, respected Pir [Gilani], Mr Khalili [possibly former vice president], esteemed members of the cabinet, the nations’ representatives, members of the senate, journalists, countrymen! Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatolla-he Wa Barakau [greetings].

 [The president switches to Dari] In the past two weeks, our country has gone through some important political and military developments as been the victim of a horrifying terrorist incident. Despite all the efforts made by the people and our government to put an end to the fighting, the rebels of this era, with their foreign supporters, have beaten the drum of battle and insurgency and declared the genocide of our innocent people. But they are not aware that our brave security and defence forces are committed to finding them across the whole country and defending the lives and property of their people by suppressing them. The members of the two esteemed houses of the national council echoed the voice of the government at a meeting at ARG [presidential palace] last week and pledged full political support for the government and national security forces with regards to peace and fighting. Exactly just one day after this consensus, the wicked Taleban committed the most horrifying inhuman crime and left our innocent countrymen killed. I would like to use this opportunity to pray for all the martyred of this land and particularly the victims of the recent terrorist attack and wish a complete recovery for the injured.

 Dear countrymen! The incident in Kabul on Tuesday [massive car bomb] is not the first act by the criminals of this group. Their despicable killing of innocent people, their depriving people of freedom, are just part of their long history of slaughter and mercilessness. They enjoy shedding innocent people’s blood and tearing people’s bodies apart. But, regardless of their blood lust, there is a large number of genuine sons of the nation who rushed to the hospitals and donated millions of litres of their blood to their injured countrymen from across the whole country, demonstrating their unity and solidarity and expressing their loathing for this terrorist group. As you know, the world, including the Islamic countries, and especially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the United Nations, the majority of Asian and European countries, the USA, China, Japan, Australia and Canada have also called this criminal act by terrorists unforgivable.

[President Ghani reverts to Pashto] Sisters and brothers! These criminals are not the seekers of knowledge [literal meaning of “Taleban” is seekers of knowledge]. They are rather rebels and militants who stood against the legitimate government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan [applause]. The real Taleban study in madrasahs. Those who murder people, who are the enemies of education and who destroy mosques have no right to call themselves “Taleban”. Based on the Holy Koran’s explicit instruction, we have the right to defend our people against rebels and militants and to punish them [applause]. This group is led by some of those enemies of our country in Peshawar and Quetta who shed the blood of their countrymen and enjoy destroying the people of Afghanistan. They feel no goodwill towards the people of Afghanistan. They have no respect for the demands and hopes of the people of Afghanistan. In the political arena, they have proved their ignorance and unworthiness. I call upon the religious scholars of Afghanistan to show to these fools and misdirected people what the right direction is.

Esteemed audience! The enemies of our people wanted to force the Afghan government to declare a state of emergency by spreading fear and brutality. But they did not know, and still do not know, that Afghans are not going to join in the unrest soon [applause] The Afghan soul does not accept unrest and we will never impose restrictions on the freedom that the constitution has given to us [applause].

[Dari] Esteemed members of parliament! I have received a list that contains 24 chapters, if I remember correctly. I will refer to part of this list which is of vital importance and I will leave the remaining part for some monthly meetings at the presidential palace in the future.

I have come to parliament today, to the highest tribune of Afghanistan, to share with you and the people that we used all our resources last year to put an end to violence through peaceful manners. We also tried our best to defend our people against the undeclared war and to continue strengthening our defensive and security forces relentlessly. We have also called for a consensus among our international partners that this is not an internal war, but rather a war launched by terrorists and their regional supporters against our country and our people to achieve their unlawful objectives. They will achieve this objective only through barbarity and terrorism.

We have stepped up efforts to put an end to the fighting through non-military means at the national, regional and international level. Meanwhile, we have also used our military channels against terrorist groups. In the last 13 months, the country’s brave security and defence forces have carried out more than 40,000 combat operations and over 16,000 resolute operations in various parts of the country. Currently, as I speak, the brave sons of this land are busy suppressing the terrorists of the Haqqani network, the Taleban and other terrorist groups in seven provinces, as part of 15 ongoing military operations.

The fighting ability of the national security and defence forces has been enhanced significantly compared with the past. Within less than a year, at least 50,000 of our patriotic families have sent their sons and daughters to join the ranks of our security forces. We thank our patriotic families and each and every mother and father who gave birth to such brave children. Our security forces were given a warm welcome all across the country. Some housewives in various parts of the country have even voluntarily provided food to our security forces while they were engaged in military operations. The modest women of this land still remember the oppression of these fools [from when the Taleban were in power] and will never tolerate this group [applause].

Based on the security requirements and in the light of the lessons learnt from previous years, we have established a military unit in Konduz and an army brigade in Badakhshan Provinces [applause]. We have also created a deputy command for special forces in order to enhance coordination among special security units. We are proud of the sacrifices made by this unit.

Among some of the units recently set up within our security forces are: the technical, weaponry and artillery section; the 777 special air force brigade; the coordinating centre for the Kabul Garrison command – led by the chief of army staff and we thank him; the regional hospital of the 215 army corps; directorates for technical affairs and operations and maintenance within the army corps and army brigades; the centre for evaluation of intelligence threats and the radio intelligence centre.

[Speaking in Pashto] Esteemed audience! Last year when we had a limited number of helicopters and planes, we began the renovation of the country’s air force and now our air force is active to the extent that they are able to launch air operations against our enemies in some of the mountainous regions such as Khostak and Kohestani [applause].

The military coordination centre that we established last year has become the most effective centre with regards to coordination and decisions. Our intelligence abilities in various areas have progressed substantially.

More than 80 generals of our country were retired after reaching pension age to make way for our youth and to inject more young blood into our army and make it more powerful. The reform process in this area is ongoing.

Today, our security and defence forces have the support of some Islamic countries, the People’s Republic of China, Russia, Australia, Japan, Canada, India, NATO member states and other international partners. We are pleased to say that a consensus has been established among international donors to support our defence and security forces in the context of a five-year security plan [applause]. This plan will be finalized in the near future at the Warsaw Summit. Before that, we will discuss the plan with you at the palace. This consolidation is the result of the hard work of the National Security Council members and especially esteemed Mr Atmar and esteemed Mr Stanekzai. I thank them very much.

Esteemed MPs and senators! In the next few days, the national defence minister and the heads of the intelligence agency will be presented to you for a vote of confidence. I hope for your cooperation in this regard. This will fill the gap [applause] We will no longer continue with acting ministers. We echo your voice [applause].

Esteemed MPs and senators, we must stand against the Haqqani Network and other Taliban groups as they are serving foreign interests and have formed an alliance with international and regional terrorists and the drugs mafia and are seeking to return our people and country to the dark era of history. History testifies to the fact that whenever we have remained united, the strongest combat armies of the world have knelt down in front of us. In order to defend our religion, country and constitutional values, we must unanimously and practically demonstrate unity. There will be no compromises and we will take action against those who work in this system and government and who harm our national unity by exploiting its resources and knowingly or unknowingly joining the enemy’s psychological warfare. I request that you, the MPs and leaders of this country, introduce this moral discipline and incorporate it into a law, so that we can more successfully respond to the enemy’s psychological warfare. You requested an explanation for friend and foe from me at our meeting in the presidential palace a few days ago. Our friends are the citizens of this country, regardless of whether they support or do not support the system, the political opposition that has a different position and perspective, but is committed to the supreme national interests and protects and guards them as much as they can. However, our enemies are those who exploit the sacred religious emotions of our young people and are part of the drugs mafia and are making their fortune through this. The enemies of Afghanistan are the slaves of foreigners, such as Da’ish, Al-Qa’idah, the Haqqani Network, the Taliban and other savage groups which take pleasure in shedding the blood of their compatriots and continuing war and terrorism. Talks with the slaves of foreigners cannot be held. However, we have opened our doors for reconciliation talks with those Taliban who are willing to cooperate with their country in ending the bloodshed and restoring peace and stability. However, this is not an everlasting opportunity.

Esteemed nation and audience, our efforts to build an effective international mechanism to end war and bring about international consensus, in particular to meet the genuine demands of our people, have proven effective. Despite the problems, the mechanism of quadrilateral talks has prepared the ground for better recognition of the fact that the demands of our people and governance are genuine and that a political solution must be sought [to the current crises]. As a result of these efforts and an active diplomacy, we have extensive relations with our key international partners in the region and the world, including key Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, based on mutual trust. And those who have failed to honour their commitments within this international framework, who did not want to honour them, have been more isolated than ever before.

Pakistan promised to use military force against those Taliban elements who do not renounce violence and reconciliation [with the Afghan government]. Let me clarify this today – we are not expecting Pakistan to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table. We, however, call on Pakistanis to keep the promises they made in the quadrilateral agreement and carry out military operations against those who, according to our intelligence organizations, the intelligence organizations of our international partners and senior Pakistani officials, have centres inside Pakistan and whose leaders are residing inside Pakistan. We also call on Pakistan to hand over these criminals to our courts to be punished unless it is willing to launch an operation against them itself. Our relations with Pakistan are based on mutual obligations and rights. We and the world expect our neighbour, Pakistan, to drop the policy of “good terrorists” and “bad terrorists” and to launch operations against them all, meaning that there is no good terrorist or bad terrorist because a terrorist is a terrorist. Pakistan’s government should act as a responsible government. There is no good terrorism or bad terrorism. And whoever believes in this will in the end themselves be harmed by the terrorists. Our people are expecting us to take the issue of sanctuaries, equipment and resources being provided to terrorist groups on Pakistan’s soil for use against Afghanistan to the UN and several other international institutions as well as international civil society, because this is against the UN charter and international conventions. No country should support terrorists against another country. We believe their expectation is genuine. Despite our efforts and desires to shape regional cooperation, we have no choice but to refer to the UN Security Council and take serious diplomatic steps unless [Pakistan] changes its policy. Furthermore, we will take steps to pursue criminals whose hands are stained with the blood of our people outside Afghanistan with the help of international institutions.

Esteemed MPs, senators, dear audience, sisters and brothers,

The government never halts its peace efforts, in view of the holy verse “peace lies in reconciliation”. However, we will pursue peace only through Afghan channels and the Afghan government will reach peace only with those who do not want war and violence, who accept Afghanistan’s constitution and who completely cut their ties with terrorists. However, I want to make it clear to everyone that if we want peace, it does not mean that criminals will walk freely and a blind eye will be turned to the acts of murderers. Our defence and security forces, who enjoy the backing of their nation, in particular of the religious scholars, have decided and devised a programme to destroy the centres of the Haqqani Network and its friends – militants, Da’ish, Al-Qa’idah and other savage groups and send these rebels to hell. The enemies of Afghanistan must realize that if they are caught during a combat operation or while conducting an act of terrorism against the people of Afghanistan, they will definitely be handed over to the law and will be punished according to the law. I assure our esteemed MPs, senators, elders and the pious people of Afghanistan that as the president and guard and protector of the rights and security of the people of Afghanistan, I will deal severely with those who shed the blood of our innocent people and soldiers and will show no mercy when punishing them. No-one will be pardoned anymore. The Afghan government is committed to executing the rulings of the courts and legal and judicial authorities strictly, including where it concerns capital punishment.

The execution of these orders with strong determination delivers a clear message: our justice system is strong enough to punish criminals and terrorists. But it is clear that our resolve to apply the law must conform to the constitutional injunctions, our commitment to human rights and just policies. You will see how those who have rejected our call for reconciliation will beg us to join the peace process after being defeated on the battlefield. Henceforth, we will achieve lasting and dignified peace through tough military action throughout the country.

Esteemed MPs, senators, sisters and brothers, all of our people stress the need for reform and a fundamental change. We are committed to honouring our promises in this regard. Reform of the electoral bodies has started and elections will be held on time. I request both houses of parliament to pass the [electoral] law submitted to them as soon as possible. One of the weak points in our government, which the enemy is exploiting, is corruption. The perpetrators have weakened the military capabilities of our defence and security forces and are serving the country’s enemies. We will mete out serious punishment through our courts to these perpetrators who commit treason. I request you all to support reforms and the elimination of corruption in every institution, in particular in the security sector, to completely depoliticize our security institutions. And those who exploit their positions should not be supported at all. We can secure victory over the enemy on the battlefield only by introducing reforms and creating cleaner institutions. I request you to support the government in achieving this goal.

In order to fight corruption, the legal and judicial system and the independence of the judiciary must be further strengthened. More attention must be paid to the protection of our esteemed judges and prosecutors against the perpetrators of organized crime. I should thank the lower house of parliament for giving a vote of confidence to Attorney-General Mr Hamidi and for preparing the ground for completion of the High Judicial Council. As part of the reforms in the judicial system, Mr Halim and his friends have transferred, replaced or appointed new judges over the past six months and have launched capacity building programmes for judges. The National Security Council will approve a new regulation for the formation of Afghanistan’s judicial and legal police. This will help judges and prosecutors to fulfil their duties confidently. I thank those judges and prosecutors who have issued death sentences to rebels and assure them that we will protect them. Moreover, the government is making efforts to improve the economic situation and create employment opportunities. The Brussels conference on Afghanistan will be held and will be attended by more than 70 countries and 20 international organizations who will announce their commitment to economic development and the promotion of good governance for the next five years.

Development projects which were launched last year will continue this year and the TAPI [gas pipeline project], the CASA-1000 [project for] electricity supply from Turkmenistan, the Aqina-Turkmenistan railway track and Herat-Khawaf [railway track] are among these projects.

Esteemed MPs and senators, I call on you once again to continue supporting your courageous and brave security and defence forces. Your political support will help our security and defence forces to fight the enemies of Afghanistan more confidently and, God willing, this year will see the last and final defeat of terrorists and murderers.

Long live Afghanistan,

Long live Afghanistan,

Long live Afghanistan.

Mullah Omar’s Son, Mohammad Yaqoub, and His Brother, Abdul Manan Akhund, Reject Pakistan’s Puppet, Mullah Mansour

“They had joined Mansur to prevent Taliban infighting,” Niazi said. “But he didn’t listen to them and unleased infighting in Zabul and committed atrocities, which prompted them to part ways with him.”

Suspicion, Infighting Cloud Afghan Peace Talks

gandaraGANDARA 2  Radio Free Europe

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (L) speaks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during the BRICS/SOC emerging economies summit in the Russian city of Ufa in July 10.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (L) speaks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during the BRICS/SOC emerging economies summit in the Russian city of Ufa in July 10.

Major global powers are apparently backing a new Pakistani push to resume direct peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

Western, Afghan, and Pakistani sources say Islamabad is eager to secure the breakthrough as it hosts a major regional diplomatic conference early next month.

The nascent process, however, faces huge challenges. Kabul is deeply suspicious of Islamabad’s motives in facilitating talks with Afghan insurgents whom it says Pakistan covertly supports and openly shelters.

Increasing infighting among Afghan Taliban factions jockeying for control over the once-united hard-line movement poses additional obstacles to jumpstarting a process aimed at ending four decades of Afghan wars through a negotiated solution.

A Western source briefed on the recent deliberations between senior U.S. officials and Pakistan’s powerful Army Chief General Raheel Sharif says the Pakistani leader mostly talked about resuming the Afghan reconciliation process that stalled soon after the first direct meeting between Kabul and the Taliban in early July.

Brokered by Islamabad, the talks were backed by Washington and Beijing. But the announcement of the Taliban’s founding leader’s death in late July unleased a succession struggle among Taliban leaders who renounced the talks. In addition, the most violent Taliban summer fighting campaign in 14 years prompted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to abandon his quest for a Pakistan-brokered settlement with the insurgents.

“They will try to agree on a new round [of talks between Kabul and the Taliban] at the Heart of Asia meeting in Islamabad [on December 7],” he said.

The source says Islamabad is offering new concessions to convince Kabul to buy into the new initiative. “[In addition to] bringing the Taliban to table, Pakistan wants an agreement on ceasefire or reduction of violence agreed at this meeting,” he said.

The source says Washington is trying to get an agreement between Kabul and Islamabad to move forward with these proposals. He says the initiative is supported by China, most regional powers and Afghanistan’s neighbors. All of these countries are part of Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process, which aims to promote “regional security and cooperation for a secure and stable Afghanistan.”

An Afghan source close to the presidential palace in Kabul confirmed General Sharif is likely to visit Kabul within the next few weeks to attempt to persuade skeptical Afghan leaders to rejoin a Pakistani-brokered reconciliation initiative between Kabul and the Taliban. The source says that visit is being encouraged by Washington.

The Afghan source says Sartaj Aziz, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s adviser on foreign affairs, might visit Kabul before General Sharif’s trip because there is still no preliminary agreement between Kabul and Islamabad.

The Western source says Kabul is placing tough demands before joining the process. “[It] mainly [includes] something to reduce the violence and show that the enemies of Afghanistan are [also] the enemies of Pakistan,” he said.

In August, Ghani said he told Pakistani leaders that “the government of Pakistan should have the same definition of terrorism in regard to Afghanistan just as it has for its own.”

In recent years, Pakistan fought vigorously against Islamist insurgents involved in attacking security forces and civilian targets. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which once controlled large swaths of territory in northwestern Pakistan, now only operate as small insurgent cells that mostly engage in hit-and-run attacks.

But Afghan officials and domestic critics accuse Islamabad of aiding and sheltering Afghan insurgents and turning a blind eye to Pakistani militants fighting for the Taliban, Hizb-e Islami, and even the Islamic State in Afghanistan. On November 21, an official in northwestern Lower Dir district, confirmed that the bodies of 22 men recently killed in southeastern Afghanistan have been buried in the region.

A source in Pakistan who requested anonymity like the Western and Afghan sources says Kabul is asking Islamabad for “some practical steps to remove the trust deficit” between the two neighbors that widened after the Taliban captured large parts of rural Afghan provinces this summer and briefly overran a major city, Kunduz, in northeastern Afghanistan in September.

“With the expansion of war [this year], the Taliban wanted to increase their weight [at the negotiating table],” he said.

The source, who was briefed by Pakistani and Afghan diplomats about their latest deliberations, says Kabul would like to see “some kind of a cut-off date for ending sanctuaries to achieve some semblance of neutrality.”

He says the relatively open large Taliban gathering to select the organization’s new leader, Akhtar Muhammad Mansur, in southwestern Balochistan Province in July deprived Islamabad of plausible deniability.

“It will not be enough to just bring the Taliban to the negotiating table,” he said. “Ensuring there will be a lasting ceasefire will be the most important question. The Afghan side would like to get some guarantees to avoid what happened after the first round of talks in July.”

During the past 14 years, Pakistani officials vehemently denied sheltering or aiding the Taliban. But in an interview in February, former Pakistani military dictator General Pervez Musharraf admitted Islamabad supported the Afghan Taliban to undermine former President Hamid Karzai’s government.

Even if Pakistan and Afghanistan agree to cooperate on the peace process, growing Taliban infighting now poses a serious challenge.

While the Taliban attempted to overrun large parts of restive Afghan provinces in the south and north of the country this summer, differences between factions loyal to and opposing Mullah Mansur have now escalated to infighting aimed at eliminating opponents.

Afghan officials and locals in southern Afghanistan say scores of fighters died in pitched battles between Mansur loyalists and followers of Mansoor Dadullah, who recently became a top deputy in a breakaway Taliban faction.

Dadullah reportedly died in a clash in the southern province of Zabul on November 12. But Abdul Manan Niazi, another senior leader of the faction, claims the brother and son of the late Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar have once again turned against Mansur for escalating differences within the Taliban ranks into armed clashes.

He told Radio Free Afghanistan that Mullah Abdul Manan Akhund and Mullah Muhammad Yaqub have abandoned their new positions within the Taliban hierarchy to protest Mansur’s policies. The two swore allegiance to Mansur in September.

“They had joined Mansur to prevent Taliban infighting,” Niazi said. “But he didn’t listen to them and unleased infighting in Zabul and committed atrocities, which prompted them to part ways with him.”

Mullah Omar’s family and the Taliban have not publicly commented on the claims, but the group’s propaganda machine, controlled by Mansur, has consistently downplayed reports of fragmentation within the movement that once prided itself over unity in its ranks.

Abdul Hai Mutmaeen, a former Taliban official, says fanning differences among the Taliban faction will not help in negotiating peace with them.

“If the Taliban fragment into factions, it will further complicate the Afghan peace process,” he said.

Radio Free Afghanistan correspondents Ajmal Aand and Ahmad Takal contributed to this story.

Afghan Taliban Crying Like Babies Over Pres. Ghani’s Plans To Hang Convicted Taliban Terrorists

Taliban makes plea to international organizations as govt mulls hanging militants


The Taliban militants group in Afghanistan has made a plea to international organizations including the international human rights and International Committee of Red Cross to intervene as the Afghan government mulls hanging militants convicted to terrorist related activities.

Warning that the hanging of militants would have serious repercussions, the Taliban group said “The Islamic Emirate also calls upon international human right organizations, independent media outlets, ICRC and other free impartial committees to not remain indifferent in using their influence concerning matter of prisoner execution.”

Noting the announcement by President Ghani regarding the implementation of judiciary institutions verdicts regarding the terrorists, the group said it “will respond with everything within its power to defend its oppressed nation.”

Meanwhile, President Ghani has reportedly received a list of militants on death row, a day after deputy presidential spokesman Shah Hussain Murtazvi said the list will be provided to the President.

Murtazvi further added that the terrorists would be hanged to death once the cases have been reviewed in a bid to ensure fairness in the verdicts.

The decision to review and implement the judiciary institutions’ verdicts regarding the terror suspects was taken days after Kabul was hit by a deadly attack.

At least 64 people were killed and 347 others were wounded after a group of insurgents launched coordinated attack on VIP protection unit in Pul-e-Mahmood Khan area of the city on 19th April.

Iran supports ‘liberationist movements’ across ME

News ID: 3609760 – Wed 27 April 2016 – 16:54
TEHRAN, Apr. 27 (MNA) – Iran’s defense minister has addressed the 4th Moscow Conference on International Security.

Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan who was addressing the meeting in Moscow on Wednesday, expressed thanks to his Russian counterpart for inviting Iran for an international meeting on security; “I would like to thank Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu for hosting the conference,” he added.

“In the last year’s edition of the conference, I had warned about spread of terrorism and militancy in the Middle East, Caucasia, Central Asia, India, western China, and Europe. Now, we see that terrorism and extremism have improved themselves, reaching their culmination in virtually all regions with heinous crimes and mass killing of Muslims and non-Muslims alike; surprisingly and unfortunately, some governments of the region have continued their support in resources, logistics, and arms to these fundamentalists,” Dehghan told the meeting.

“We believe political despotism, poverty, destitution, and political vassalage to great powers outside the region who at the same time act as proxies of these powers contribute to the vicious circle of terrorism and social and political under-representation and denigration of nations; the confounding factors are ethnoreligious hatred and conflict of interests which invite foreign intervention,” he emphasized.

“Double-standards in dealing terrorism by the US and its allies and in justification of their interests in the region is another important contributor to this circle; these conducts, we believe, will precipitate the conditions very similar to those preceding world wars,” Dehghan added. “Realism however would provide some solutions to this question of looming global conflict and other questions; in a world of insecurity, instability, and rife with horrors of terrorists’ crimes, the US and Zionists have been seeking their own interests.”

“The Islamic Republic of Iran systematically opposes any militarization of the outer space as violating the principles of international peace and stability and of unrepairable damage for all nations,” he emphasized, voicing the same opposition to proliferation and stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction across the globe. “We believe the Zionist regime is a threat to international peace and that the NPT members should be motivated enough to promote international peace and a world free of nuclear weapons,” he concluded.

The Return of Pakistan’s Military Dictatorship—goodbye democracy

[SEE:  Pakistan’s Multi-Front Wars and the Return of the Military Dictatorship]

Something’s got to give in Islamabad

The Hindu
THEN AND NOW: “The similarity, however, between 2016 and 1999 is that the real reason for the army’s need to remove the Prime Minister may not necessarily be corruption.”
AP   THEN AND NOW: “The similarity, however, between 2016 and 1999 is that the real reason for the army’s need to remove the Prime Minister may not necessarily be corruption.”

By removing 13 of his officers, the army chief has all but asked the Prime Minister to quit — and the oligarchic warfare in Pakistan has turned more complex than ever before

So is Pakistan’s military getting ready to take over the government for a fifth time in its 69 years of existence to play its self-acquired additional role of defending national integrity? The country’s all-powerful army chief seems to have implicitly asked the third-time elected prime minister to quit. After names of some members of Nawaz Sharif’s family appeared in the recent Panama Papers leak, General Raheel Sharif made a pitch asking the Prime Minister to offer himself for an above-the-board accountability, which basically means to resign. The general is now joined by the GHQ’s new political creations, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Mustafa Kamal’s Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP). Mr. Sharif snapped back by giving a televised speech in which he questioned the moral authority of the military to question him. Given excessive publicity since he took over as army chief, General Sharif seems to have greater moral authority to poke Mr. Sharif where it hurts. The television speech did not earn the political Sharif kudos, but it did indicate his intent to fight back.

Just like 1999?

The situation is a reminder of the friction between the heads of government and army after the Kargil operation in 1999. Even then, the main charge for removing the Sharif government was corruption. The then army chief, Pervez Musharraf, seemingly made appropriate laws and organisation to fight corruption. The National Accountability Ordinance (NAO, 1999) was framed as a draconian law to pursue the corrupt, track looted money and bring it back where it belonged.

But available evidence suggests that he gave up his overzealous pursuit of corruption within months of taking over. He was advised against scaring men with money out of the country at a critical time for the economy. Moreover, he needed civilian partners to bolster his own political career, due to which he brought on board numerous tainted politicians. Instead of recovering looted money from the Sharifs, as was claimed, General Musharraf cut a deal and sent the family in exile. Later, he withdrew a critical case being pursued in Swiss courts against Benazir Bhutto and her husband Asif Ali Zardari as part of the NRO deal. The situation is not likely to be any different now despite General Sharif making a linkage between terrorism and corruption. He appears to have even got the endorsement for this linkage from the Americans. But it still seems he will wait for Mr. Sharif’s boat to capsize under the burden of excessive criticism.

The real similarity, however, between 2016 and 1999 is that the real reason for the army’s need to remove the Prime Minister may not necessarily be corruption. Many believe that the army chief’s source of anxiety is with Mr. Sharif’s desire to challenge the military’s power through a permanent regional policy change and buying into the senior officer cadre. Every time he is in power, Mr. Sharif tends to divide the echelons. The fact of the matter is that this is essentially a battle between oligarchs. The army is the most organised and powerful oligarch which is also responsible for creating other oligarchs. Starting from the late 1960s, the army midwifed most political leaders. But that does not mean that they will not evolve and try to come into their own. In fact, the problem is that the PML-N and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) have rebelled in their own way, especially when they signed the Charter of Democracy in 2006. Mr. Sharif also seems to have divided the judiciary, which was subservient to the GHQ for a long time. Though it is not entirely free of the military’s influence, there are members who have cosied up to Mr. Sharif as a way to gain freedom from the military. According to the British legal expert Martin Lau, traditionally Pakistan’s judiciary engaged in Islamic judicial activism in order to gain ascendency over the military. Now they have a partner. This leaves the army with its under-construction oligarchs such as the PTI and PSP or its older partners such as the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam. Even the Jaish-e-Mohammed has become increasingly critical of Mr. Sharif’s ‘liberalism’ and ‘corruption’.

Uncertain consequences

Certainly, the oligarchic warfare in Pakistan has turned more complex and interesting than ever before. The consequences are not as predictable as they used to be. The generals continue to turn on the heat, which is very obvious from the manner in which news of the army chief removing 13 of his officers, including a lieutenant general, a major general and five brigadiers, was publicised. General Sharif can’t be bothered about creating the impression that he is on the same page as the government. In fact, such a notion has proved to be a total farce. We know that the military and civil leaderships were never on the same page. Even when it seemed to be the case, they were reading different lines. Now, the general wants to test his credibility to take on a prime minister. He is trying to convince the people and the world at large that he is more credible than the civilian dispensation. If he can sack his officers for corruption, then why can’t the political government go?

But it is not the first time that senior officers have been sacked. General Waheed Kakar also removed a couple of lieutenant generals. Nonetheless, it is the first time that the Director General (DG) of Inter Services Public Relations, Lt. General Asim Bajwa, leaked the news. This creates the impression that if the army, considered like Caesar’s wife — above questioning — can put itself through the accountability mechanism, then why not the civilians? Furthermore, there is systematic image-building of the chief. Thus far, General Sharif doesn’t seem to have any skeletons in his cupboard, but that itself does not say much about the accountability of his institution, which tends to manipulate laws to exploit state resources and label it as legal. After all, the general did make choices. He was instrumental in General Musharraf’s latest escape from accountability.

It is almost like watching the Turkish soap on the Ottoman empire that is very popular in Pakistan. There are incessant intrigues and conspiracies to protect individual power. Sadly, there is little hope for a positive outcome whichever way the battle turns. While General Sharif’s victory is bad for the country, the likelihood of great gains from Mr. Sharif’s would be equally dismal. The stakes are so high that it is not likely that they will learn the fundamental lesson that accountability and transparency are necessary for survival of both state and society.

Ayesha Siddiqa  Ayesha Siddiqa is an Islamabad-based columnist.

Afghan Govt Condemns Taliban Reception In Islamabad

[SEE:  Afghan Taliban say team in Pakistan not for peace talks ]

Kabul Questions Taliban Trip To Pakistan



The Afghan government on Thursday raised questions over the recent trip by a Taliban delegation, from Qatar, to Pakistan.

A Taliban delegation reportedly arrived in Pakistan this week to allegedly address problems faced by Afghan refugees.

This comes close on the heels of President Ashraf Ghani’s speech earlier this week where he said peace talks between some factions of the Taliban were off the table.

“The Taliban delegation’s trip to Pakistan from our prospective is totally questionable. A terrorist group does not have the right to travel to countries. We expect Pakistan to have government-to-government relations with Afghanistan,” said Shahussain Murtazawi, the deputy spokesman for Ghani.

Kabul meanwhile urged Islamabad to honor its pledge and suppress the militants who are engaged in violence in Afghanistan.

“Action should be taken against the militants who are involved in terrorist activities from Pakistan’s soil in Afghanistan. This is the demand that our allies have as well,” said Tawab Ghorzang, spokesman for the National Security Council (NSC).

The National Unity Government (NUG) meanwhile threatened to take revenge on the Taliban and other militants.

“Afghan security forces’ aim is to defend Afghanistan, defend our values and defend the people of Afghanistan…. We will take revenge of the blood of our people on terrorists,” said Jawed Faisal, the deputy spokesman for Chief Executive Office Abdullah Abdullah.

It seems that following Ghani’s order, Afghan security forces have expanded their military operations to suppress militants.

“Besides ground achievements, we had good achievements in our night raids. Whenever the enemies have risen up, we have either eliminated them, or have arrested them,” said Dawlat Waziri, spokesman for the Ministry of Defense (MoD).

“We haven’t seen [results] in the battleground so far. However, we can say that they (security forces) are devising plans and should act in accordance with the newly devised plans,” said Mirza Mohammad Yarmand, the former Deputy Minister of Interior.

Currently, security forces are conducting 15 large-scale operations in 11 provinces.