Modi Threatens To Cut Indus Flow Into Pakistan

India's Waters Can't Be Allowed To Flow Into Pak: PM Narendra Modi On Indus Row

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking at an event in Punjab’s Bhatinda

Bhatinda:  In election-bound Punjab, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today that Indus river waters “belong to our farmers” and India has the right to the waters flowing into Pakistan.

“The Indus waters, India has the right to those waters…it flows into Pakistan. Flowing through Pakistan, the water goes into the sea. That water belongs to the Indian farmers. We will do whatever we can to give enough water to our farmers,” PM Modi said at a rally in Bathinda.

Taking a swipe at the Congress, he said: “Governments came and went in Delhi… no one paid attention to the problems of the farmer. Pakistan took full advantage of this, but not anymore. I will ensure that my farmers get what is rightfully theirs.”

He also commented that after India’s surgical strikes, “Pakistan didn’t know what hit it’. The country is yet to recover from the strike, he said of the operation carried out by the army in September targeting terrorist staging areas in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

The 1960 Indus Waters treaty brokered by the World Bank, on the sharing of the waters of six rivers between the two countries, became a flashpoint after the Uri attack in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed by terrorists from Pakistan. PM Modi then signaled a review of the pact, saying “blood and water cannot flow together.”

The Indus Waters Treaty gives India rights to use the eastern rivers – Ravi, Sutlej and Beas – and Pakistan has control over the three western rivers, Chenab, Jhelum and Indus.

India has asked for a neutral expert to examine Islamabad’s complaint against hydroelectric power projects on the rivers that flow into Pakistan. Pakistan has, at the same time, asked for an international court of arbitration.

Pakistan warned India at the UN Security Council against using water as ‘an instrument of coercion or war”.

Indian Army Recovered Items Marked “US Government Property” and “Pakistan Defense Forces” From LoC Incursion


Pak terrorists left behind US night vision goggles after beheading Indian soldier



On the army’s twitter page, it was posted that search leads and recoveries indicate Pakistan’s complicity in the attack.

New Delhi, Nov 29: Search and leads indicate Pakistan‘s complicity in an attack in which 3 Indian soldiers were killed.

beheaded-indian-soldier source

Three Indian soldiers were killed and one of the bodies was mutilated [BEHEADED–ed.] in Jammu and Kashmir’s Machil sector.


The Northern Command IA had posted on its Twitter profile that retribution will be heavy for this cowardly act.

On the army’s twitter page, it was posted that search leads and recoveries indicate Pakistan’s complicity in the attack.

The army also posted two photographs on its Twitter handle to suggest Pakistan’s role in this gory attack.

One pair of night vision goggles with US Government property marked on it and another of the supplies with Pakistan marked on it was posted on the Twitter handle by the Northern Command.

Following the gory incident on November 22 there was heavy retaliation by India which led to escalation of tensions.

Pakistan claimed that 11 civilians and 3 soldiers had been killed in heavy shelling by Indian forces.

This led to a call from Pakistan’s Director General Military Operations in which he sought to reduce tensions.

During the unscheduled hotline interaction between the two DGMOs, India made it clear that Pakistan must behave and stop resorting to unprovoked firing along the border.

OneIndia News

Erdogan Finally Admits That He Entered Syria “to end the rule of tyrant al-Assad”

Turkish army tanks and military personnel are stationed in Karkamis, on the Turkish-Syrian border, in Gaziantep province, Turkey, Aug. 25, 2016.  (photo by REUTERS/Umit Bektas)

Erdogan’s shifting rationale on Syria

al monitor

At first it was to clear Turkey’s border of the Islamic State (IS). Then it was to roll back the Syrian Kurdish militants of the People’s Protection Units (YPG). Today brought a brand new explanation for why Turkish troops entered northern Syria in August to team up with opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels: “Why did we enter? We do not covet Syrian soil,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in Istanbul at the Inter-Parliamentary Jerusalem Platform Symposium. “We entered there to end the rule of tyrant [Bashar] al-Assad. [We didn’t enter] for any other reason.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s latest rationale for Turkish forces entering northern Syria point to a long-term engagement.

Coming as Syrian regime forces appeared poised to regain control of rebel-held neighborhoods in eastern Aleppo, Erdogan’s comments suggest that Turkey will not be pulling the plug on its Syrian rebel proxies anytime soon. In fact, if his words are to be taken at face value, they signal an even deeper Turkish military engagement in Syria, pitting Turkish forces simultaneously against IS, the YPG and the regime.

This would leave Turkey at odds with the US-led coalition — which considers the YPG its top ally against IS — and with Russia, which wants Turkey to end its support for the FSA rebels. It would also inevitably raise the specter of more body bags coming home to Turkey. Added to all this, Erdogan’s statement belies recent speculation that Turkey was abandoning its long-running campaign to unseat Assad and was sending out feelers to Damascus, if only to join forces against the Kurds.

Since entering Jarablus in August, Turkish troops have succeeded in clearing the border of IS and have pushed further south, capturing the IS stronghold of Dabiq. Over the past month, however, they have — together with their rebel allies — been unsuccessfully struggling to dislodge the YPG from areas around the hotly contested IS-held town of al-Bab. Apparently, Ankara believed it had won Russian backing for that plan. The Nov. 24 deaths of at least four Turkish soldiers near al-Bab, in what the Turkish General Staff initially described as an airstrike by Syrian jets, threw cold water on such notions amid speculation that Russia might have been behind the attack.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus announced Nov. 28 that Russian President Vladimir Putin had assured Turkey that its planes had not carried out the attack. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim will travel to Moscow Dec. 5 to meet with his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, and Putin, and Syria is certain to be a topic of discussion.

Meanwhile, Turkish officials speaking on strict condition of anonymity told Al-Monitor Nov. 28 that they had concluded that the Assad regime was not responsible for the soldiers’ deaths either. This, therefore, points to IS, which actually claimed responsibility for the attack. In further alarming news, IS also claimed, on Nov. 29, to have captured two Turkish soldiers in the village of Dana, west of al-Bab.

Coalition officials believe that an IS suicide bomb was the likely culprit for the Nov. 24 attack, but the waters have been further muddied by unconfirmed reports by local sources in northern Syria that an Iranian drone had been spotted in the skies above al-Bab when the attack occurred. Iran has armed drones, and there is video footage of Iranian drones purportedly hitting opposition rebels in Syria.

Historical rivals Iran and Turkey are on opposite sides in the Syrian conflict, but have been at pains to avert a direct confrontation. On Nov. 26, Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, called for greater cooperation on Syria during a visit by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Still, the possibility that an Iranian drone, intentionally or unintentionally, dropped the fatal munitions on the Turkish forces “cannot not be treated as a fantasy,” said a YPG commander contacted by Al-Monitor in northern Syria by phone. “The real fantasy,” he contended, “is that Turkey can overthrow Assad by military force.”

Pentagon Self-Investigates and Exonerates Its Murderous Attack Upon Syrian Troops At Deir Ezzor

[RAAF fighters bombed Syrian troops after vital clues missed]

US military: Fatal phone tag with Russians contributed to Syrian deaths


Washington (CNN)A US military investigation revealed Tuesday that Russian and coalition officers engaged in a 27-minute game of phone tag while American and coalition warplanes were mistakenly bombing and killing fighters allied with the Syrian regime in September.

“In this instance, we did not rise to the high standard we hold ourselves to, and we must do better than this each and every time,” Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, commander of US Air Forces in the Middle East, said in a statement accompanying the completion of the classified investigation into the deadly September 17 strike. A redacted executive summary of the report was released Tuesday.
“The decision to strike these targets was made in accordance with the law of armed conflict and the applicable rules of engagement,” US Brig. Gen. Richard Coe, the officer charged with investigating the airstrike, said in a statement. “But we concluded based upon post-strike analysis that a number of ‘human factors’ resulted in incorrect identification of forces on the ground.”
Military officials said the US took the unprecedented step of informing the Russian military in advance of its intent to strike the targets — which the Americans believed were ISIS — via a hotline that had been established to ensure mistakes were not made in the airspace used by Russian and US warplanes.
Coe acknowledged that the information provided to the Russians was “off by several kilometers.”

‘Human error’

The investigation found that once the strikes began, Russian officials called the hotline and waited to speak to the designated point of contact but were told that the person was unavailable.
Coe said the other officer in the operations center offered the chance to pass a message along, but the Russians “hung up on that phone call to call back later.”
When the Russians rang up a second time and the point of contact was still not available, Coe said, “They elected not to leave a message and went on hold” pending the arrival of the officer in question.
Coe said 27 minutes elapsed between the first Russian call and the cessation of airstrikes.
“In that 27 minutes, 15 of the 32 strikes happened,” he said, noting that once the Russian information was received and understood, the coalition “immediately halted strikes.”
Col. John Thomas, a spokesman for Central Command, told reporters that the coalition had asked the Russians to immediately convey critical information in the future.
The US and its coalition allies had previously said they believed their warplanes were targeting ISIS fighters. Russia said at the time the strikes jeopardized a cessation of hostilities that Washington and Moscow had negotiated and that the Syrian regime resumed striking rebel areas soon after, with the accord eventually collapsing.
The hotline difficulties were one of several errors highlighted by the investigation, which said “human error” in the targeting process was largely to blame for the deadly mistake.
Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Coe said there was “no intent to target Syrian forces” and added that the units struck on September 17 near Deir Ezzor “looked and acted like the forces the coalition has been targeting,” referring to ISIS fighters.
“They were not wearing uniforms, they had no flags or insignia,” Coe said, adding that the coalition now believes “those forces were aligned with the Syrian regime more likely than not.”

Review of targeting procedures

One critical error involved the incorrect identification of a vehicle that targeting analysts believed belonged to ISIS. That vehicle met up with the larger force that was eventually struck, with analysts believing those fighters were also associated with ISIS due to the vehicle’s presence there.
Coe said Harrigian had ordered a review of targeting procedures to prevent similar incidents from happening.
The attack involved 32 strikes carried out by F-16s, A-10s, F/A-18s jets and remotely piloted aircraft. The coalition said 34 precision-category weapons were dropped and 380 30mm rounds were fired on the targets.
Representatives from Australia, Denmark and the UK took part in the investigation as they had also been involved in the strikes, along with the US.
The coalition said it could only substantiate 15 deaths as a result of the errant attack, but Coe said “we certainly believe more than 15 individuals were killed,” although the US was not able to determine the precise number of fatalities.
In the days following the attack, the Russian military put the number at 62 Syrian fighters killed.

Time To Take A Stand Against Govt/Corp Fake “News”

Time to stand up



The First Amendment Monument at Independence National Historic Park/Wikimedia commons


If journalists are truly concerned about “fake news” or “false news,” there is a simple solution.

Call out the people doing shoddy journalism and explain why readers should be concerned as Rolling Stone did on Monday. It picked a big target, too; nothing less than The Washington Post and its suggestion that Russian propaganda might have won the election for president-elect Donald Trump.

“The thrust of (Post reporter Craig) Timberg’s astonishingly lazy report is that a Russian intelligence operation of some kind was behind the publication of a ‘hurricane’ of false news reports during the election season, in particular stories harmful to Hillary Clinton. The piece referenced those 200 websites as ‘routine peddlers of Russian propaganda,’” wrote Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi.

Taibbi did not take the easy road of calling for government regulation to solve this fake news/false news problem. He took the high road by doing what journalists are supposed to do: their goddamn jobs.

Taibbi set a standard for what others should be doing. He did not make nice with the Post as part of Club Journo. He forthrightly pointed out why what it did was fundamentally wrong in terms of responsible journalism.

“…The vast majority of reporters would have needed to see something a lot more concrete than a half-assed theoretical paper from such a dicey source (as before denouncing 200 news organizations as traitors,” he wrote.

“But if that same source also demanded anonymity on the preposterous grounds that it feared being ‘targeted by Russia’s legions of skilled hackers’? Any sane reporter would have booted them out the door. You want to blacklist hundreds of people, but you won’t put your name to your claims? Take a hike.

“Yet the Post thought otherwise, and its report was uncritically picked up by other outlets like USA Today and the Daily Beast. The ‘Russians did it’ story was greedily devoured by a growing segment of blue-state America that is beginning to fall victim to the same conspiracist tendencies that became epidemic on the political right in the last few years.”

The Alaska Dispatch News, which has a publication agreement with the Post, was among the news organizations happily picking up the Post story suggesting Russian-backed fake news might have tipped the presidential election in favor of Donald Trump.

Taibbi’s criticism of the Post and the journalistic echo-chamber to which it played is that journalism is supposed to have standards.

Facts head the list of standards. The Post story was not supported by any facts. The Post story actually bowed to the, anti-transparency belief that facts are irrelevant because it doesn’t matter if the blacklisted websites published factual information or “knew they were echoing Russian propaganda at any particular point: If they (published) they are at the very least acting as bona-fide ‘useful idiots’ of the Russian intelligence services….”

Neither nor the Post specifically defined what constitutes “Russian propaganda,” but generally indicated anything anti-Hillary Clinton and/or pro-Donald Trump qualified.

Taibbi links this behavior to the incredibly partisan politics of America today.

“A lot of reporters over the summer were so scared by the prospect of a Trump presidency that they talked – in some cases publicly – about abandoning traditional ideas about journalistic ‘distance’ from politicians, in favor of open advocacy for the Clinton campaign,” he writes.

“These journalists seemed totally indifferent to the Pandora’s box they were opening. They didn’t understand that most politicians have no use for critical media. Many of them don’t see alternative points of view as healthy or even legitimate.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa

Taibbi is partially right about journalists abandoning or wanting to abandon traditional journalistic standards in order to advocate for a Clinton presidency, but he is only partially right. The fundamental idea that journalism should be a fact-based business was fading long before the election.

Economic pressures years ago began to transform journalism.  Old mainstream news organizations – what former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin likes to call the “lamestream” – became increasingly click-based news organizations instead of fact-based news organizations as they moved online.

Old news organizations started the business on the journey down the road to false news, and they are these days as guilty of continuing along that path as some of the websites devoted to flat-out “fake news.”

The suggestion that some kids in Macedonia created fake news that helped Trump win the election has been everywhere on mainstream websites of late, and the Guardian went all in with Hannah Jane Parkinson’s column claiming “Click and elect: how fake news helped Donald Trump win a real election.” 

The journalistic problem is that there is no evidence to support that claim. None.

“The influence of verifiably false content on Facebook cannot be regarded as ‘small’ when it garners millions of shares,” Parkinson writes.

Maybe it can’t. Maybe it can. The fact is nobody knows. All anyone knows is that some fake stories about Clinton were regularly shared.

Maybe they were believed. Maybe they weren’t.

Maybe they changed minds. Maybe they didn’t.

Maybe they were only read by people who were going to vote for Trump no matter what. Maybe they weren’t.

Maybe Clinton supporters shared them thinking they were so absurd they were funny. Maybe they didn’t.

And maybe they now have everyone distracted from the real issue.

All that sharing started much of this Macedonia madness with a story headlined “How Teens In The Balkans Are Duping  Trump Supporters With Fake News.”

So was it kids trying to make money, or was it the Russians?

But wait, that’s a topic for a different story. Let’s stick to the Macedonia madness.

The BuzzFeed story had the same problem as those that have come since. Nobody knows if Trump supporters were duped. Possibly, maybe probably, some were. Possibly so, too, some Clinton supporters were duped by the mainstream.

All that is factually known about the false stories reportedly coming out of Macedonia is that in many cases they were shared far more often on social media than were stories originating in the mainstream.

The question that really needs to be asked then is “why?”

Is all this sharing a reflection of the success of fake news, the failings of the mainstream media, or a little of both? Is it possible some segment of the American public thinks the mainstream so inaccurate or so slanted that it doesn’t care if its news is fake?

If you happened to engage in or monitor any of the discussion flowing across the country’s vast political divide in the lead up to the election, as opposed to staying within your like-minded group, you might have noticed something interesting.

A lot of people used internet links to make the point that the candidate they disliked was flawed, and most of these people – right or left – didn’t worry much about the bona fides of the authors of those links. They went looking for a link that reflected what they already believed and said, “there, see!”

BuzzFeed reported one of the most shared stories from a Macedonia-based site had a headline that read “Hillary Clinton In 2013: ‘I Would Like To See People Like Donald Trump Run For Office; They’re Honest And Can’t Be Bought.’”

The headline is almost true. In a private speech to a bunch of Goldman Sachs financiers, Clinton said she would like to see more successful business people in politics, though should did not specifically mention Trump by name.

Many a mainstream news outlet called out on something like this would defend it, arguing that while Clinton didn’t mention Trump by name she did mention successful business people and that is close enough; no correction is warranted.

And you most certainly wouldn’t see a publication like the New York Times going after a publication like the Washington Post for a story engaging in this sort of journalistic over reach. That would violate the rules of the club.

Far more blatant violations of the idea that journalism should be fact-based have taken place in Alaska in the last few years, and competing news publications have willingly overlooked the frauds committed by competitors.


This is the mess mainstream journalism has made of things:

Logic should dictate that Trump, a man born with a silver-spoon in his mouth and raised in the lap of luxury who ran on a populist platform, cannot get elected president in  a country where the majority of voters are middle class or lower.

Why would these people put their trust in such a man? What could they possibly see in him that they would think likely to make their lives better?

The only logical answer to these questions is that a bunch of Americans believe the system is so broken that they don’t care if Trump’s promises are false or not. They are willing to vote for anyone who at least offers them hope.

And they’re not about to believe a media they don’t trust that tells them a vote for this guy would be a bad idea.

The electoral map reflecting Trump’s victory coming from states that are economically struggling or believe their ideas of “family,” for lack of a better word, have been overlooked by better-off, urban elites points strongly at this possibility.

You’d think the media might be taking a serious look at this, and an even more serious look at why so much of the country takes such a dim view of the mainstream whether in print, on the air, or online.

Yes, maybe all those people out there in middle America (and Alaska) are country-bumpkin idiots. Maybe they aren’t as smart as the members of Club Journo. Maybe they don’t understand why it is sometimes more important to protect club members than fact-based reporting.

But maybe they’d like to see more people behaving like Taibbi at Rolling Stone, who not only calls out the Post and fake/false news but points to a bigger danger facing U.S. journalism today, a danger that makes fake news, most of which is so bad anyone with half a brain can spot it, or harder-to-spot false news look rather insignificant.

The bigger danger?

The ever-growing association between journalists, politicians and the bureaucracy leading to the slow but steady transformation of the media into another arm of government.

“…In the end what will happen is that they (journalists) will adopt the point of view of their political sponsors,” Taibbi writes. “They will soon enough denounce other reporters and begin to see themselves as part of the power structure, as opposed to a check on it.

“This is the ultimate in stupidity and self-annihilating behavior. The power of the press comes from its independence from politicians. Jump into bed with them and you not only won’t ever be able to get out, but you’ll win nothing but a loss of real influence and the undying loathing of audiences.”

Nowhere in the country should this last warning ring louder than in Alaska at this moment.


Saudi Terrorist Indoctrination Program Hidden Within Bin Naif Rehabilitation Program

[As you can see in the links posted below, the subject of Guantanamo secret brainwashing and mind control have been a favorite topic on this site for a long time, especially relating to the idea of “proactively targeting terrorism from captured terrorists.”  There is a body of common evidence which describes the relationship of Guantanamo prison to virtually every major Sunni terrorist group in the world.  Every terrorist group embraces those militants released from Gitmo, where they always take leadership positions.  Guantanamo has cultivated a generation of militant, radical Islamist leaders, under the guise of “terrorist rehabilitation and reconditioning.”  The intimate symbiosis between Guantanamo and the Saudi rehabilitation center, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef Center for Care and Counseling.  The Saudi reconditioning program is the model used by nearly every Western country which has a terrorist rehab program, including Pakistan.  If the Saudis are really running a terrorist training program disguised as a rehabilitation program, then all of these countries are knowingly, or unknowingly, doing the same. 


“there is a strong externally…a strong de-radicalization program, but make no mistake, underneath there is a hidden radicalization program. There is a very hidden stronger, way stronger in magnitude, broader in
financing and in… in all that.”
They need a jihadist, but they want you to be a
compliant terrorist. They need … they want al-Qaeda…they want you to be a jihadist.
They want you to … to fight under their cloak – under the royal
Saudi cloak, under the religious establishment cloak.”]


Guantanamo prisoner claims Saudi Arabia’s rehab program for terrorists is really a front for recruiting jihadists

daily mail


Al-Qaida in Arabian Peninsula=Guantanamo/Mossad, ISIS=Camp Bucca, Iraq
Guantanamo and The Saudi Rehabilitation Program Behind AQAP–(Intentional, or Major Fowl-UP?)
The Saudi Terrorist “Rehabilitation” Scam—Munasha
Detention Operations, Behavior Modification, and Counterinsurgency
Yemen–al-Munasaha , Saudi Re-Education
Batch 10
Yemen al-Qaeda link to Guantanamo Bay prison
What is the truth about ISIS?


  • Ghassan Abdullah al-Sharbi said rehab program at the Prince Mohammed bin Naif Counseling and Care Center is actually working to recruit jihadists
  • The Saudi centers in Riyadh and Jeddah include psychological counseling and religious clerics on hand to clarify ideology
  • Those enrolled are supposed to be reintegrated into society through activities like swimming, ping-pong, and art therapy
  • But al-Sharbi said ‘underneath there is a hidden radicalization program’

An al Qaeda operative told a parole board at Guantanamo Bay that a Saudi reform program for terrorists is actually a front for recruiting jihadists, according to declassified documents.

Ghassan Abdullah al-Sharbi said the program at the Prince Mohammed bin Naif Counseling and Care Center, which was thought to have played a key role in Saudi Arabia’s counter-terrorism strategy, is not what it appears to be.

Dozens of Guantanamo detainees, including Osama bin Laden’s former bodyguard, have been sent through to the program as a condition of their release as President Obama hopes to close the prison before he leaves office.

The center, which includes activities like swimming, ping-pong, and art therapy, has been compared to a holiday resort, and those who complete the 12-step program are rewarded with young brides and new cars, the New York Post reported.

Ghassan Abdullah al-Sharbi told a parole board at Guantanamo Bay that a Saudi reform program for terrorists (pictured in 2009) is actually a front for recruiting jihadists

Ghassan Abdullah al-Sharbi told a parole board at Guantanamo Bay that a Saudi reform program for terrorists (pictured in 2009) is actually a front for recruiting jihadists

Dozens of Guantanamo detainees have been sent through to the program as a condition for their release. Programs include art therapy

Dozens of Guantanamo detainees have been sent through to the program as a condition for their release. Programs include art therapy

According to the Post, 134 Saudi detainees have been sent to the rehab centers in Riyadh and Jeddah.

The facilities are meant to help former jihadists integrate into society, with psychologists on hand to determine problematic social factors while religious officials are there to clarify ideologies, the New York Times reported.

Those who are sent to the center also have access to a PlayStation, gourmet meals, and private apartments for conjugal visits, the Post reported.

But Al-Sharbi told the parole board: ‘You guys want to send me back to Saudi Arabia because you believe there is a de-radicalization program on the surface, true.

‘You are 100 per cent right, there is a strong…de-radicalization program, but make no mistake, underneath there is a hidden radicalization program.’

Al-Sharbi, who faced the Periodic Review Board after 14 years, said he did not want to enroll in the 12-step rehab program fearing he would be ‘used’ to ‘fight under the Saudi royal cloak.’

He said: ‘When they release you they wanna make sure that you’re still under that cloak and they got you to fight their jihad in their regions and in the States.’

The facilities are meant to help former jihadists integrate into society, with psychologists and religious officials on hand (pictured released Gitmo detainees listening to a Muslim cleric)

The facilities are meant to help former jihadists integrate into society, with psychologists and religious officials on hand (pictured released Gitmo detainees listening to a Muslim cleric)

Those who are sent to the center also have access to a PlayStation, gourmet meals, and private apartments for conjugal visits, although about 20 per cent return to terrorism

Those who are sent to the center also have access to a PlayStation, gourmet meals, and private apartments for conjugal visits, although about 20 per cent return to terrorism

He added: ‘They will proudly tell you they will fight terrorism. That means they will support it.’

He also added that fighters are being recruited and trained to face off against Iranians in Yemen and Syria.

Earlier this year, the Periodic Review Board, created under Obama’s administration in 2011, agreed to release Muhammed Al Shumrani after his lawyers argued that enrolling him in the rehab program would help.

About 20 per cent of those who enroll in the rehab program return to terrorism, the Post reported.

The road at the centre of the struggle for Afghan influence

The road at the centre of the struggle for Afghan influence



JALALABAD (Afghanistan) — Giant trucks thunder along the main stretch of highway that peels away from the Pakistani border, carrying cement, fruit and chemicals to the Afghan city of Jalalabad.

Vulnerable to attacks from Taliban and Islamic State (IS) militants, the crucial 74km expanse of road that runs near the famed Khyber Pass is undergoing a major facelift after security concerns forced a seven-year delay in the project.

As well as paving the way for an expansion in bilateral trade between the two countries, the road is at the centre of the struggle between Pakistan and India to maintain influence over Afghanistan.

Strategic interests

“It’s strategic interests that are prompting investment in Afghanistan,” Mr Imtiaz Gul, executive director at the Centre for Research and Security Studies in Islamabad. “Goodwill is secondary.”

In the last decade, India’s investment in Afghanistan has created discomfort for Pakistan, he noted.

Last month, Pakistan pledged a further US$500 million (S$712 million) to help rebuild Afghanistan, in addition to an existing US$500 million package on health, education and infrastructure that includes a 400-bed hospital in Kabul and more than 2,000 scholarships for Afghan students.

India, too, has focused on building infrastructure such as dams, highways, and power frameworks as well as the new Parliament in Kabul. It has largely refrained from supporting Kabul militarily because of Pakistani sensitivities, said Mr Dhruva Jaishankar, fellow at the Brookings India think-tank.

“For India, the priority is a stable and plural Afghanistan, and the defeat of the Taliban. This would ensure that the region is not a hotbed for terrorism and is instead a conduit to Central Asia,” Mr Jaishankar said.

Militant insurgency

Meanwhile, Afghanistan remains in the grip of a resurgent Taliban and repeated attacks from IS militants.

Bilateral relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have been severely strained over Pakistan’s support for the Taliban, presenting significant challenges to economic development in the region, said Mr Abdul Baqi Amin, director of Centre for Strategic and Regional Studies in Kabul. The neighbours accuse each other of harbouring militants who carry out assaults on both sides of the border.

Nevertheless, Pakistan is Afghanistan’s largest trading partner, with annual trade of around US$2 billion. The two governments pledged to raise bilateral trade to US$5 billion by next year.

Some of this investment is bearing fruit. Last year, Afghanistan and Pakistan trade increased from US$1.03 billion to US$1.7 billion, according to Pakistan central bank figures, and Pakistan, as one of South Asia’s fastest-growing economies, is eyeing the central Asian markets for trade expansion.

Trade between Pakistan and central Asian republics combined accounted for just US$74.27 million in 2015-16, according to the Pakistan Trade Development Authority. With the expansion of the Torkhum-Jalalabad road, Islamabad is also looking to the expansion of the corridor to central Asia, creating an economic engine for the region.

Historic roadway

As the main gateway to Afghanistan, more than half of Afghanistan’s 2014 trade with the rest of the world was conducted via Pakistan’s two border crossings — Torkham in the north and Chaman in the south, according to the Pakistan Business Council.

“If you see the history, people just came here to fight,” said Mr Amjad Ali, director of the road project for Pakistan’s national highway authority, referring to the use of the Torkham crossing by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces prior to 2014, as well as the long history of invasions via the Khyber Pass. “Now, more than 600 trucks each day cross the border via this road, and once the second carriageway is completed and the mechanism at border is upgraded, it will go up further.”

Pakistan is among the best-performing economies in Asia, and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif aims to boost it further after China pledged to invest US$46 billion in an economic corridor linking its less-developed western part to Pakistan’s deep-sea port of Gwadar.

Despite the harsh exchange of words between Pakistan and India, Pakistan’s Minister for Planning and Reform, and the brains behind Mr Sharif’s development policy, Mr Ahsan Iqbal, offered an unexpected olive branch, inviting India to join China’s corridor in order to promote economic growth in south and central Asia.

“We need to normalise ties in this part of the world,” Mr Iqbal said in an interview earlier this month. “A better political environment is the key to better economic cooperation.” BLOOMBERG