Pakistan’s Nuclear Terrorist Threat


US worried Pakistan’s Nuclear-weapons could land up in terrorists’ hands: Official – The Economic Times
PTI
WASHINGTON: The Trump administration is worried that nuclear weapons and materials in Pakistan could land up in the hands of terror groups and the concerns are aggravated by the development of tactical weapons, a senior US official has said.
The senior Trump administration official said that during a compressive review, one of the major issues that continually came up for discussion and is very important to the US was the nuclear danger in the region.
That is a critical element of the South Asia strategy, the official told reporters during a conference call.
The Trump administration is worried that nuclear weapons and materials in Pakistan might land up in the hands of terrorist groups or individuals, the senior administration official said, on condition of anonymity.
The South Asia strategy announced by US President Donald Trump on Monday notes that the “nuclear weapons or materials could fall” into the wrong hands, the official said.
“It (South Asia policy) also prioritises the escalating tension between India and Pakistan, the two nuclear power countries, and looks for ways to de-escalate the tension between the two to avoid any potential military confrontation among them,” the official said.
“We are particularly concerned by the development of tactical nuclear weapons that are designed for use in battlefield. We believe that these systems are more susceptible to terrorist theft and increase the likelihood of nuclear exchange in the region,” the Trump administration official said.
The official said it was due to this that the strategy also focuses on confidence building measures between India and Pakistan and encourages them to come to the negotiating table.
The danger of nuclear weapons was also mentioned by Trump in his Afghanistan and South Asia policy speech on Monday.
“For its part, Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror. The threat is worse because Pakistan and India are two nuclear-armed states whose tense relations threaten to spiral into conflict. And that could happen,” he had said in his first prime time televised address to the nation.
In an article published in ‘War on the Rocks’, Christopher Clary, who worked on the South Asia policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defence from 2006 to 2009, said Pakistan likely possesses more than 100 nuclear weapons today and might possess fissile material for up to 200 or 300 nuclear weapons.
“The US presence in Afghanistan is primarily about preventing terrorist groups operating there, but there is some reporting that suggests elements of the US government are wary of losing basing in Afghanistan that is useful to monitor Pakistani terrorist groups and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons development efforts,” Clary said.
Stephen Tankel, an American expert, said the US has two vital security interests in Pakistan — ensuring militants in the region do not attack the US homeland and keeping militants from getting their hands on nuclear material.
“America also has a critical interest in preventing Indo-Pakistani nuclear escalation and terrorist attacks against US persons and infrastructure in the region,” Tankel recently wrote for Center for a New American Security.
“Maintaining a sufficient counter-terrorism presence in Afghanistan has been a cornerstone of the broader US counter- terrorism policy. This, in turn, has required ensuring the Afghan government retains sufficient control over its territory,” he said.
Pakistan is developing tactical nuclear-capable ‘Nasr’ ballistic missiles for battlefield use in order to deter a limited Indian military response to terrorist attacks by Pakistan-supported militants, he wrote.
“The common concern about Pakistani nuclear weapons is that they are vulnerable to internal threats. In reality, these weapons are most likely to fall into terrorists’ hands if forward-deployed during a conflict with India,” Tankel said.
“Even some Pakistani analysts recognise that it would be difficult for the Pakistan military to ensure the full security of these weapons once they were deployed in the field,” he said.

We Are Missing the Prelude to the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif

Pakistan democracy at risk after removal of Nawaz Sharif

Nyshka Chandran
The same laws used to dismiss Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could effectively be applied to other lawmakers, spelling potential political upheaval and a stronger military — unsavory scenarios for the nuclear power’s fragile democracy.
Last Friday, the Supreme Court dismissed the 67 year-old on a failure to announce income in disclosure papers for 2013’s general election. According to the Supreme Court statement, the former prime minister demonstrated dishonesty by not declaring monthly salary of roughly $2,700 from Dubai-based Capital FZE — a company owned by his son — during 2006 to 2014.
The judicial body based its decision on Article 62 of the Constitution and Section 99 of the Representation of the People Act — little-used legislation that require truthfulness and honesty from elected officials.

Political infighting expected

While Friday’s decision was hailed as a rare example of accountability in a graft-stricken nation, the fact that such vague laws were used to remove Sharif could trigger infighting between political parties, strategists warned.
“Having used these clauses to oust the prime minister, the court may have opened Pandora’s box,” Moeed Yusuf, associate vice president, Asia Center, United States Institute of Peace, said in a recent note. “Sharif’s allies have already started bringing charges against their political opponents under the same article; other such cases are sure to follow.”

“Having used these clauses to oust the prime minister, the court may have opened Pandora’s box.”

Dirty politics, nepotism, and cronyism is rampant in the South Asian economy, ranked 116th in Transparency International’s list of 176 corrupt nations, which means numerous lawmakers could be removed under Article 62.
The court itself has previously referred to the law as a “nightmare” given the difficulty in objectively defining the terms, Yusuf said.
“The fact that Sharif was disqualified on the grounds of Article 62 is potentially very problematic because more than half the current parliament and members of the provincial assemblies could be disqualified on the same grounds,” echoed Rafiullah Kakar, an assistant research officer at the Commonwealth Young Professionals Programme, in a note published by the London School of Economics.
That could spark the purging of an entire political class, which could create a vacuum that would likely be filled by non-democratic forces, he added.

Military to benefit

During the 1990s, friction between Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League and the opposition Pakistan People’s Party eventually paved the way for 1999’s military coup — many now fear a repeat of history. The army, experts said, is a clear winner from Friday’s ruling.
“The army gains by discrediting the civilian government. A weakened and humiliated civilian government ensures that public support for the armed forces will remain high as it emerges, once again, as the more competent institution,” said Shailesh Kumar, senior Asia analyst at consultancy Eurasia Group.
But despite its advantageous position and history of coups, the military isn’t expected to take power anytime soon.
“In decades past, if a civilian leader was abruptly removed, the expectation would be that the army would swoop in to restore order — yet today, no serious observer of Pakistan expects the military to seize power,” Michael Kugelman, South Asia deputy director and senior associate at the Wilson Center, said in a Tuesday note.
“Of course, given the deep clout that the military already enjoys behind the scenes, it has no need to take power directly and likely no desire either, given the arguably unprecedented non-security policy challenges, such as severe water shortages and a serious energy crisis, that afflict present-day Pakistan.”
Eurasia Group also said it expects the powerful army to stay on the sidelines amid the current government turmoil.
Friday’s ruling followed a months-long investigation into the Sharif family’s offshore wealth, which was sparked by allegations of money laundering in 2016’s Panama Papers. The Supreme Court has also ordered a criminal probe into the family based on the Panama Papers’ claims.

The Devolving Pakistani Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8)


Pakistan’s Generals Strike Again: Sharif’s Ouster Is a Scary Shake-Up
Bruce Reidel
The most dangerous country in the world just got even more unstable.
The recent demise of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is a victory for the country’s generals who despise Sharif for being “soft” on India and seeking peace in Afghanistan. His brother Shahbaz will replace Nawaz but faces a country in turmoil and must first win a by-election to parliament to take on the job.
Make no mistake: Instability in Pakistan is dangerous for the United States and for the world. Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear weapons program in the world, along with intermediate-range ballistic missiles, American supplied F16 jets, and is developing tactical nuclear weapons.
In Pakistan’s 70-year history, no prime minister has ever served a full term in office; all 18 attempts have left short of time. Sharif has been prime minister three times over the last three decades and has been removed from office each time. His administration this time had the distinction of being the first elected government ever to replace a previously elected government by the ballot box.
The Supreme Court ousted Sharif due to a corruption scandal that emerged more than a year ago, when the so-called Panama Papers were leaked. Investigators found that Sharif’s family had sizable amounts of money and assets in London, including four luxury flats that allegedly had been purchased with illegal proceeds. A Joint Investigation Tribunal dominated by the army concluded that the family had assets far beyond their income and recommended the case to Pakistan’s Supreme Court.
A key part of Sharif’s defense rested on the testimony of the former Qatari prime minister, Hamid bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani (HBJ). HBJ was a business partner of Sharif and has provided written evidence to corroborate Sharif’s claims about how he legitimately acquired the London properties. But the tribunal rejected the Qatari’s letters.
In the end the Supreme Court convicted Sharif on a technicality: He had failed to report to parliament a work permit he had obtained while in exile that facilitated travel to the United Arab Emirates. The court referred all the other charges against the prime minister and his daughter and two sons for further judicial review. So the case will drag out for months.
Nawaz reportedly wants his younger brother Shahbaz to fill out his five year term before elections next year. Shahbaz has been governor of Punjab province, the nation’s most populous, and is a competent and successful executive. The family dominates the ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League (PML), and has a strong majority in parliament. It’s two largest rivals led by Imran Khan and Bilawal Bhutto can not block the PML’s choice. But Shahbaz must first win election to the parliament which will take a month or more. In the interim a former oil minister, Shahid Khasan Abbasi, will be the temporary prime minister.
I first met Shahbaz when he came to Washington in 1999 to warn the Clinton White House that then Chief of Army Staff General Pervez Musharraf was planning a coup to oust his brother. We listened sympathetically but couldn’t stop a coup in a nuclear weapons state. After the coup took place the brothers lived in exile in Saudi Arabia for almost a decade. The army wanted them never to return, but Musharraf was driven out of power by a popular movement.
The army is the most powerful institution in Pakistan and has a long history of removing prime ministers that its leadership dislikes. Sharif has been in the army’s crosshairs since he accepted President Bill Clinton’s call for a unilateral cease fire during the 1999 Kargil war with India. When Sharif pulled back Pakistani troops in the ceasefire, he set the stage for the coup that ousted him months later, which Shahbaz predicted. He was able to return only after the 2007 collapse of General Musharraf’s dictatorship. From exile Musharraf now has hailed the supreme court decision as “historic.”
Nawaz Sharif’s fitful attempts to improve Pakistan’s troubled relations with India since the 1990s lie at the core of the army’s dislike for him. Nawaz and Shahbaz are more interested in economic growth than pursuing Pakistan’s vendetta with India. Nawaz has also sought to persuade the Afghan Taliban to negotiate with the government in Kabul, a stance that the army opposes as well. Sharif has kept Pakistan out of the Saudi war in Yemen for over two years, producing serious strains in Pakistan’s ties to Riyadh, and more recently he has been neutral in the Qatari dispute with the kingdom.
The military is also among the most corrupt institutions in the country. Officer pensions are very generous. Musharraf lives in Dubai with an extensive portfolio. The army is the nation’s biggest property developer with large holdings in the cities, including 35 square kilometers of sea front in Karachi. Several large trusts are run by the army, with billions in assets.
In addition to the threat it poses as an unstable nuclear power, Pakistan is a patron—and victim—of terrorism.
It is home to numerous terrorist organizations, including Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, the Haqqani network, al Qaeda’s emir Ayman al-Zawahiri as well as Osama bin Laden’s son, Hamza bin Laden. It has been the target of dozens of terrorist attacks by the Pakistani Taliban. Some 55,000 Pakistanis have been casualties of terrorism in the last decade.
The border with India is tense after a series of violent incidents. The two have fought four wars. There are no direct air flights between Islamabad and New Delhi.
Pakistan is also China’s closest ally, and Sharif is responsible for negotiating an enormous $50 billion development deal with Beijing.
The Trump administration is still reviewing U.S. policy toward Pakistan. Since 2001 the U.S. has provided over $30 billion in aid to Pakistan, but the Congress has become much more reluctant to approve military assistance since Osama bin Laden was killed in a safe house just outside the Pakistani equivalent of West Point in Abbottabad in 2011.
The president avoided a bilateral meeting with Nawaz Sharif when they both were in Saudi Arabia in May, which has been interpreted in Islamabad as a signal of cooling ties.
The corruption scandal is outside of Washington’s influence, but how it plays out will have significant consequences for South Asia and beyond. Opening a high-level dialogue with the new prime minister would be a prudent step. Washington should avoid the temptation to deal directly with the generals, that is a path to failure.

Risk of Terror from the Pakistani Horn (Daniel 8)

Exit comes amid U.S. concerns over terror – INTERNATIONAL

HELENE COOPER WASHINGTON, July 30, 2017 00:00 IST Updated: July 30, 2017 03:42 IST
In most countries where the United States has national security interests, the toppling of a Prime Minister would prompt hurried meetings in Washington and concern over how the change in government will affect U.S. strategy in the region.
But not so with Pakistan. The resignation of Nawaz Sharif raised eyebrows at the State Department and the Pentagon, but little else. The Pakistani military is largely viewed as the real source of power in Islamabad, and that is not going to change with a new Prime Minister.
Still, Mr. Sharif’s removal comes as the White House is trying to determine a strategy for Afghanistan that officials say has stalled amid concerns about how to deal with Pakistan, where both the Taliban and the Haqqani network have a sanctuary. The White House has held up a Pentagon request to send additional troops to Afghanistan while officials grapple with how much pressure to put on the Pakistani government to crack down on the groups.
‘No key action’
The Pakistani government has “failed to take significant action” to prevent those groups from threatening U.S. and Afghan forces in neighbouring Afghanistan, the State Department said last week in a report on terrorism. And Pentagon officials are withholding $50 million in military reimbursements to Pakistan for the fiscal year that ended in October 2016, signalling displeasure with Islamabad’s failed efforts against the Haqqani network, a ruthless wing of the Taliban based in Pakistan.
Taliban’s sneak attack
U.S. and Afghan officials are still raw from a Taliban sneak attack in April that killed more than 160 soldiers at an Afghan military base in northern Afghanistan’s Balkh province, the single deadliest Taliban assault of its long war against Afghan forces.
Blaming the attack on the Haqqani network, U.S. military officials said the attack, which led to the firing of Afghanistan’s Defence Minister and the Afghan army’s chief of staff, was planned over four to six months and was too sophisticated and calculated to have been conducted by other branches of the Taliban.
Mr. Sharif’s exit means that General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the Pakistani army’s chief, assumes an even bigger role. For some in U.S. security circles, that is a relief. The military has always controlled the country’s nuclear arsenal, and stability within that military structure means fewer worries that amid the country’s political turmoil, its nuclear weapons could fall into the wrong hands.NYT

Instability in the Pakistani Horn

Why the ousting of the Pakistan prime minister is such a big deal
Stockbyte | Getty Images
Luke Graham
Pakistan is likely to face serious political and economic instability after the country’s three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is ousted from power by the Supreme Court following a corruption investigation into his family’s wealth.
“He is no more eligible to be an honest member of the parliament, and he ceases to be holding the office of prime minister,” Judge Ejaz Afzal Khan said in court, Reuters reported.
But the nuclear-armed country is now set for political uncertainty with no clear successor in place.
Why has Nawaz Sharif resigned?
Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled on Friday morning to disqualify Sharif, along with the country’s finance minister Ishaq Dar, from power. Sharif also faces a corruption trial after investigators said his family could not account for its wealth. Sharif resigned shortly after the ruling.
The allegations relate to the 2015 “Panama Papers,” which revealed three of Sharif’s children had links to offshore companies which owned properties in London, according to BBC reports.
The court’s decision is a victory for the rule of law, according to Timothy Ash, emerging markets senior sovereign strategist at BlueBay Asset Management.
“Politicians have been brought to account in Pakistan – can the same be said for many emerging markets, e.g. Ukraine and South Africa. On the latter we talk a lot about the strength of South African institutions, but have any major politicians been brought to account for stuff that is not dis-similar, even worse, than this?” he said in an email to CNBC.
Ash said the ruling is a credit to Pakistan, even though it raises questions over the country’s political stability.
Will this affect the U.S.?
The ruling will make it more difficult for the U.S. to find a solution to the war in Afghanistan, says Wali Aslam, senior lecturer in international security at the University of Bath.
“High-ranking military and civilian officials in Washington have recently been reiterating the significance of Pakistan in resolving the conflict. In his recent visit to the region, Senator John McCain said, ‘We will not have peace in the region without Pakistan,’” he said in a press statement.
Aslam warns Pakistan’s relations with the U.S., China and India could be disrupted now Sharif is gone.
Who will take over from Sharif?
Sharif has been prime minister of Pakistan three times: from 1990 to 1993; from 1997 until 1999; and since July 2013. Pakistan’s prime minister is the chief executive of the country, with the power to form a cabinet, assign government ministers and control the country’s nuclear weapons.
Sharif’s party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), will get to choose the next prime minister, at least until the elections in the summer of 2018, according to Daniel Salter, head of equity strategy and head of research for Eurasia at Renaissance Capital. There may be infighting within the party, he warns.
“Nawaz’s daughter, Mariam Nawaz Sharif, who was being groomed as potential successor was also caught up in the (corruption) case: local sources seem to assume the army may have given its support to this ruling, perhaps to prevent the Sharif dynasty becoming overly powerful,” Salter said in a note.
With Sharif’s daughter compromised, Salter says the most likely successors are Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, speaker of the national assembly; Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, minister of petroleum; Khurram Dastgir Khan, commerce minister; and Khawaja Muhammad Asif, defense minister. He adds that Sharif may try to guide the party from the background.
The defence minister or railway minister Khawaja Saad Rafique are the most likely successors, says Asad Ali, Asia country risk analyst at IHS Markit, but he warns there’s risk of a split within the party.
“An official split in the PML-N ahead of the election would fracture the party’s vote bank in Punjab,” he told CNBC via email.
What does this mean for the economy?
Sharif’s ousting will weaken PML-N’s chances of winning the election in 2018. The party is Pakistan’s most investment-friendly and pro-business party, according to Ali.
“Since it came to power in 2013, Pakistan’s key economic indicators have gradually improved due to better economic management while foreign investment has slowly picked up”, Ali said.
Pakistan’s all-share stock exchange fell sharply on the news, falling by 1.6 percent, but bounced back to finish up 44 points on Friday.
The country’s currency is also vulnerable, according to Daniel Salter.
“The Pakistani rupee has been vulnerable in recent months, overvalued on our REER (real effective exchange rate) metric. The currency had a mini sell off in early July which was quickly reversed and the central bank governor replaced,” he said.
“The current account has been worsening, FX reserves falling and exports contracting. We had assumed the government would keep the currency supported and allow weakening post-election.”
The Supreme Court ruling has increased uncertainty ahead of Pakistan’s next election, Salter cautions.
Follow CNBC International on Twitter and Facebook.

Trump’s Continuing Foreign Blunders

By MAX FISHER and JOSH KELLER DEC. 2, 2016
Dec. 2
Why it matters
Dec. 2
The call with President Tsai Ing-wen risks infuriating China, which wants to bring Taiwan back under mainland rule. By honoring the Taiwanese president with a formal call, Mr. Trump’s transition team implicitly suggests that it considers Taiwan an independent state. The U.S. has declined to recognize Taiwan since 1979, when it shifted recognition to the government in Beijing. Taiwan itself has yet to declare formal independence. Mr. Trump tweeted, “The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency.”
Why it matters
Mr. Duterte has been accused of gross human rights abuses, referred to President Obama as a “son of a bitch” and declared his country’s “separation” from the U.S. during a recent trip to Beijing. Mr. Duterte said the president-elect was “quite sensitive” to “our worry about drugs” and that his country’s crackdown on drug users was being conducted “the right way.” There was no immediate response from Mr. Trump to Mr. Duterte’s description of the phone call or to a Reuters report that Mr. Trump invited the Philippines president to Washington.
Nov. 30
Mr. Trump praises Kazakhstan’s leader for “fantastic success.”
Why it matters
Mr. Trump praised Nursultan A. Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan since 1991, in tones that suggest approval for Mr. Nazarbayev’s strongman rule. According to the Kazakh government’s readout of the call, Mr. Trump “stressed that under the leadership of Nursultan Nazarbayev, our country over the years of independence had achieved fantastic success that can be called a ‘miracle.’”
Nov. 30
Mr. Trump accepts an invitation to visit Pakistan, “a terrific country.”
Why it matters
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif invited Mr. Trump to visit, according to a Pakistani government readout of their call. Should Mr. Trump follow through, he risks alienating India, which sees Pakistan as a major antagonist, and appearing to reward Pakistan’s behavior; should he renege, he risks upsetting Pakistani leaders who are sensitive about perceived American intransigence. Either way, the call could upset the delicate balance of India-Pakistan ties, which the U.S. has struggled to manage amid a history of wars and recent skirmishes.
Nov. 17
Ivanka Trump joins a meeting with the Japanese prime minister.
Why it matters
Rather than inviting State Department officials to staff his meeting with Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, Mr. Trump invited his daughter Ivanka. The meeting alarmed diplomats, who worried that Mr. Trump lacked preparation after a long record of criticizing Japan. It also blurred the line between Mr. Trump’s businesses, which Ms. Trump helps run, and the U.S. government, with which she has no role.
Nov. 10
After brushing off the United Kingdom, Mr. Trump offers a casual invitation to the British prime minister.
Why it matters
Mr. Trump spoke to nine other leaders before British Prime Minister Theresa May, an unusual break with the two countries’ long-standing special relationship. “If you travel to the US you should let me know,” he told her, far short of a formal invitation.Trump also met with Nigel Farage, former leader of the fringe U.K. Independence Party — a slap to Ms. May. He later said that Mr. Farage should become the British ambassador to the United States, though presidents typically avoid telling foreign counterparts how to staff their governments.

The Apprentice’s Foreign Ignorance

An entire subcontinent is currently scratching its head over a read-out issued by the Pakistani government of a phone call on Monday between Donald Trump and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif:
Joshua KeatingJoshua Keating
Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs.
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif called President-elect USA Donald Trump and felicitated him on his victory. President Trump said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif you have a very good reputation. You are a terrific guy. You are doing amazing work which is visible in every way. I am looking forward to see you soon. As I am talking to you Prime Minister, I feel I am talking to a person I have known for long. Your country is amazing with tremendous opportunities. Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people. I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems. It will be an honor and I will personally do it. Feel free to call me any time even before 20th January that is before I assume my office.
On being invited to visit Pakistan by the Prime Minister, Mr. Trump said that he would love to come to a fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people. Please convey to the Pakistani people that they are amazing and all Pakistanis I have known are exceptional people, said Mr. Donald Trump.
Clearly, there’s some garbled paraphrasing and editing here—I’m assuming Sharif also said a thing or two—and according to the Washington Post, the Trump transition team hasn’t responded to requests for corroboration, but it certainly sounds like Trump’s very distinctive cadence and vocabulary. Given what’s been released about his other conversations with world leaders, the tone here wouldn’t be out of character. Another example: his informal invitation to British Prime Minister Theresa May to “let me know” if she happened to be traveling to the U.S.
It would be unusual for the president-elect to talk to any foreign leader this way, and particularly Sharif given the complicated and tense relationship between the United States and Pakistan. The country is a major recipient of U.S. military aid but its security services are also widely believed to be backing anti-American insurgent groups, including the Taliban. It’s the sort of situation that any president should approach only with extreme caution.
Trump’s lavish praise for Pakistan has predictably made headlines in Pakistan’s rival India. The Times of India reports that a spokesman for India’s foreign ministry has issued the “deadpan” response: “We look forward to the president-elect helping Pakistan address the most outstanding of its outstanding issues—terrorism.”
During the campaign, Trump—a self-proclaimed “big fan of Hindu”—promised the U.S. would be “best friends” with India under his administration and praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He’s also acquired an odd cult following among hardline Hindu nationalists, who are likely now miffed that the man they counted on to be an anti-Islamic crusader has such nice things to say about their most hated enemy. The Indian media is suggesting this is some kind of flip-flop for Trump. He did once tweet, back in 2012, “Get it straight: Pakistan is not our friend. We’ve given them billions and billions of dollars, and what did we get? Betrayal and disrespect – and much worse. #TimeToGetTough”.
As Akbar Shahid Ahmed of the Huffington Post writes, we should be worried less about what Trump’s plans for South Asia are than the fact that he likely doesn’t have any. Typically, presidents-elect get State Department briefings before speaking with foreign leaders, but Trump has reportedly been turning those down. It’s all been very casual. Assuming the transcript is mostly accurate, then, it seems safe to assume that Trump was just buttering Sharif up without giving much thought to the sensitivities involved in a very tense geopolitical conflict or how his words might be interpreted. Which makes the story both pretty amusing—and scary.

The Pakistani Nuclear Deal That Failed (Ezekiel 17)

nawaz-obama_647_082115103759

The Pakistani Nuclear Deal That Wasn’t

LAHORE – Recently, it came to light that the United States was attempting to negotiate with Pakistan a deal to constrain the Pakistanis’ fast-growing nuclear weapons program. That sounds like good news: Any move toward non-proliferation seems like a positive step. Unfortunately, in this case the effort has had some dangerous unintended consequences.

It all started last month, when US media reported that an agreement was already near completion. First, David Ignatius of The Washington Post reported, on the basis of conversations with senior US officials, that agreement had already been reached on a number of steps Pakistan would take to reduce its dependence on nuclear weapons for deterrence. A few days later, David Sanger of The New York Times confirmed. Both accounts suggested that the agreement would be announced in a joint statement following the October 23 meeting in Washington, DC, between US President Barack Obama and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

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But the reality is that those media reports were the beginning, not the end, of the process. According to senior Pakistani officials – including Sartaj Aziz, a key adviser on foreign affairs and national security – there was no agreement in the works when the stories appeared. Rather, it seemed that the US was using the media to put pressure on Pakistan’s government to respond more readily to America’s pleas to cap production of tactical weapons and the short-range missiles that could deliver them.

The reports put Pakistan’s political leaders in an awkward position. They could not possibly succeed in convincing the country’s powerful military establishment to place constraints on the development of the country’s nuclear arsenal. Indeed, the US effort merely widened the divide on security issues within Pakistani– a situation that serves no one’s interests.

Pakistan’s leaders were determined to turn attention back toward their country’s rapidly deteriorating relations with India, a challenge with which the US could help. So when they received America’s draft of the statement to be issued after the Obama-Sharif meeting, and saw that it focused almost entirely on nuclear issues, it was decided that Aziz would head to Washington a day early to agree on revisions.

From Pakistan’s perspective, the draft statement seemed to be driven by the White House. It seemed that “the office of the National Security Adviser wanted to add another ‘nuclear feather’ to Obama’s cap, following the successful negotiations with Iran,” Aziz speculated to me in a private conversation. Believing that the US State Department was not “kept in the loop,” Aziz requested that, if he could not agree on the statement’s wording with the designated official, he could meet with Secretary of State John Kerry.

To be sure, the US government’s agenda would have some benefits for Pakistan. The US would press the Nuclear Supplier Group to issue a waiver to Pakistan, as it has already done for India, so that Pakistan could import the technology, parts, and components needed to build nuclear power plants.
And, in fact, Pakistan needs to build about a half-dozen such plants – in addition to the two already being built by the Chinese near Karachi – to address its energy shortfall, which amounts to an estimated 5,000 megawatts annually. With voters heading to the polls in early 2018, genuine progress toward resolving the energy crisis would presumably be good for Pakistan’s political leaders.

In exchange for this, however, Pakistan would have to limit the number of tactical nuclear weapons in its arsenal and cease development work on them. Moreover, Pakistan would have to mothball the short-range “Nasr” missile, which has already been shown to be capable of delivering small nuclear weapons over a distance of 50-75 kilometers.

The US believed that shifting Pakistani leaders’ attention from nuclear-weapons development to power-plant construction would, in addition to bolstering efforts to close the energy gap, limit Pakistan’s dependence on China for nuclear technology and reduce the risk of an immensely destructive war in South Asia. But these calculations failed to take into account Pakistani security considerations – in particular, the military’s renewed fears about India’s intentions.

For some time, senior military officials have been concentrating on rooting out terrorism at home, and they have scored some impressive successes. But recent base-building activity by India near its border with Pakistan has been raising red flags in Islamabad.

According to a senior Pakistani military official, India, in pursuit of its “Cold Start” military doctrine, is constructing eight bases at which heavy armor would be stationed. Developed after the 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament, the doctrine calls for Indian troops to move rapidly to occupy 300-500 square kilometers of Pakistani territory in the event of another terrorist attack. The occupation would end only when Pakistan formally relinquished its claim to Kashmir and dismantled all terrorist training camps operating within its borders. “Tactical nuclear weapons,” the Pakistani military official explained, “will deter India from following through on this strategy.”

Against this background, the US should have known that trying to compel Pakistan to limit its nuclear-weapons capability would fail. But it pushed anyway. As a result, Pakistan’s reliance on China has been strengthened, not weakened. And, instead of reducing the chances of a nuclear standoff in South Asia, the White House plan served only to distract attention from efforts to address tensions between India and Pakistan.

Ultimately, the Obama-Sharif statement did emphasize India-Pakistan relations, and made no reference to the nuclear issue. Obama mentioned Kashmir as an unresolved issue, while pleading for stability in South Asian affairs. According to Aziz, Pakistan was satisfied with the final statement. The US, however, may not have felt the same.

Read more at https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/pakistan-obama-nuclear-deal-by-shahid-javed-burki-2015-11#UjmBeERgCrKIubzk.99

Pakistan :To Deal Or Not To Deal? (Daniel 8)


Sharif’s US visit is bad news for India

By Kanwal Sibal
22:54 26 Oct 2015, updated 22:54 26 Oct 2015

Pakistan’s chronic hostility towards India, its constant efforts to internationalise its differences with India, and the persistent US bias in favour of Pakistan on issues bedevilling India-Pakistan relations, all oblige us to pay attention to visits Pakistani leaders make to the US.

India and the US have a strategic partnership today. The nuclear issue between them has been settled politically.

India now purchases major US defence equipment, overcoming earlier reluctance to create dependence on a country considered unreliable as a defence partner.

We now have a Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean region, with all its geopolitical connotations.

We are talking of a defining counter-terrorism relationship for the 21st Century.

A stand-alone U.S.- India Joint Declaration on Combating Terrorism was issued in September 2015. With such rapid advance in building trust-based ties in sensitive nuclear, defence, maritime and counter-terrorism areas, we would have expected the US to shed its proclivity to take a position on India-Pakistan issues at Pakistani prodding.

Why the US feels that its objectives in South Asia can only be met by establishing some kind of a balanced equation between India and Pakistan is difficult to understand, given the huge disparities between them in geographic, demographic, economic and military size, in human capital, in the functioning of democratic institutions, and so on.

Puzzling

This becomes more puzzling because of Pakistan’s involvement in international terrorism, its complicity with the Taliban and the Haqqani group in the killing of US and NATO soldiers in Afghanistan, the harbouring of Osama bin Laden, and evidence of Pakistan’s abetment of terrorist attacks against India, most notably the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which six US nationals were killed.

Nawaz Sharif’s Washington visit a few days ago revealed once again the soft US approach to Pakistan and its ambivalence on India-Pakistan issues.

The visit was preceded by talk of a US-Pakistan nuclear deal, which Pakistan does not strictly need because of its on-going nuclear cooperation with China. But Pakistan presses for it because it cannot tolerate the idea of the US denying it parity with India.

Ignoring the unrestrained expansion of its nuclear arsenal, its quest of tactical nuclear weapons which it openly threatens to use against India, its dismissal, on the eve of Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Washington, of any possibility of accepting any restrictions on its nuclear programme, Obama gave approval chits to Pakistan in the joint statement on its nuclear conduct by welcoming its “constructive engagement” with the Nuclear Security Summit process, its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and its efforts to improve its strategic trade controls and enhance its engagement with multilateral export control regimes.

It is only after the visit that an un-named US official categorically declared that the US was not contemplating any 123 type agreement with Pakistan or an NSG exemption.

Strategic

Obama and Sharif expressed their “shared interest in strategic stability in South Asia” in their joint statement. This ignores the fact that China’s continuing nuclear and missile relationship with Pakistan makes this a triangular China-Pakistan-India affair and not merely an India-Pakistan one.

Moreover, India’s nuclear programme is under some agreed constraints as part of the India-US nuclear deal, while those of China and Pakistan are not. Why is the US disregarding these realities and equating India and Pakistan?

Obama applauded in the joint statement “Pakistan’s role as a key counter-terrorism partner”. By reiterating “their common resolve to promote peace and stability throughout the region and to counter all forms of extremism and terrorism”, Pakistan was made to look good.

Worse, Obama made the suppression of extremism and militancy the cooperative responsibility of all South Asian countries, not only that of Pakistan as the source of all these forces.

The defining counter-terrorism partnership of the 21st century between India and the US is absent from all this.

Credence

Pakistan uses the excuse of Kashmir for its terrorist onslaught against India, which makes it even more necessary not to pander to its Kashmir fixation. But the US is unable to shed its traditional pro-Pakistan slant on Kashmir.

Whereas in 2013, during Nawaz Sharif’s Washington visit, Obama supported a “sustained dialogue process” for “resolving all outstanding territorial and other disputes through peaceful means”, Kashmir was not specifically mentioned. This time, to satisfy Nawaz Sharif who has been determined to internationalise the Kashmir issue, it was.

By calling Kashmir a “dispute”, the US is preferring the Pakistani term. To top this, the joint statement calls for an “uninterrupted dialogue in support of peaceful resolution of all outstanding disputes”, rejecting implicitly the Indian line that dialogue and terror cannot go together.
Most unfortunately, the US has implicitly given credence to Pakistan’s outlandish charges against India for supporting terrorism in its territory by emphasising the importance of “working together to address mutual concerns of India and Pakistan regarding terrorism”. This equates India and Pakistan on the terrorism issue.

Our spokesman has rightly objected to Obama’s “support for Pakistan’s efforts to secure funding for the Diamer–Bhasha and Dasu dams” in Gilgit-Baltistan, despite calling it “disputed territory”.
The US should not legitimise Pakistan’s illegal occupation of POK. It is important that even as we engage the US as much as possible in our own interest, we must not lose sight of the ambiguities of America’s strategic policies towards us in our region.

The writer is a former Foreign Secretary

Nobel Laureate Obama Set On Pakistani Nukes (Daniel 8:8)

obama-peace-prize
Obama Sets Sights on Pakistan’s Nuclear Program After Iran
 
Natalie Obiko Pearson

October 21, 2015 — 4:00 PM MDT

Updated on October 22, 2015 — 1:43 PM MDT

Pakistan’s Sharif meets Obama at the White House on Thursday

Leaders discussing nuclear arsenal, terrorism, Afghanistan

After reaching a deal to restrict Iran’s nuclear capabilities, President Barack Obama may seek to curtail Pakistan’s fast-growing arsenal of atomic weapons.

Obama hosted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the White House on Thursday amid speculation that their nations are in talks to limit Pakistan’s nuclear arms program in return for greater access to technology and fuel for civilian purposes, similar to a U.S. deal with its arch-rival India. Obama also wants Pakistan’s commitment to curb Islamic militants operating within its borders and to play a role in brokering an accord with the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan.

The leaders discussed nuclear security, including Pakistan safeguarding of its nuclear stockpile and working with international nuclear regulators, according to a joint statement the pair released after the meeting. The U.S. also pledged to help Pakistan attract private investment in clean energy and to provide $70 million to help educate 200,000 Pakistani girls.

The discussions highlight complexities in U.S. relations with Pakistan, a country that has received more than $30 billion in American aid since 2002 even though Obama didn’t trust its leaders enough to inform them of the mission there that killed Osama bin Laden. Last week, Obama cited Pakistan in calling for the elimination of sanctuaries for Afghanistan’s Taliban fighters.

Longstanding Relationship

“The United States and Pakistan have a longstanding relationship, work and cooperation on a whole host of issues, not just on security matters but also on economic, scientific, educational affairs,” Obama told reporters in the Oval Office before the meeting with Sharif. “We’re looking forward to using this meeting as an opportunity to further deepen the relationship.”

Sharif told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday that Pakistan’s anti-terror operations have improved internal security. Talk of a nuclear deal percolates amid growing concern over the expansion of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, which along with India’s is the world’s fastest-growing.
“The U.S. and Pakistan, now and historically, have been working toward differing goals,” said Aparna Pande, a South Asia scholar at the Washington-based Hudson Institute. “America hopes this deal will calm Pakistan down, make it a better actor in the region. Pakistan sees it as another way to achieve parity with India and to keep building nuclear weapons.”

Fourth Reactor

Satellite images indicate Pakistan started up its fourth reactor earlier this year, making it capable of more than doubling the amount of weapons-grade plutonium it produces, according to the Institute for Science and International Security.

More fissile material could give Pakistan the world’s third-biggest nuclear arsenal in five to 10 years — behind the U.S. and Russia but twice as large as India’s — according to an August report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center. India currently has an estimated 90 to 110 nuclear warheads, while Pakistan has about 100 to 120, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

The White House and Pakistani officials have played down reports that the U.S. is nearing a deal with Pakistan to restrict its nuclear weapons and delivery systems.

“I would significantly reduce your expectations about that occurring on Thursday,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Tuesday when asked about the prospect that such a deal may be announced as part of this week’s visit.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry was more emphatic, saying “no deal” is being discussed and pledging “to maintain a full-spectrum deterrence capability in order to safeguard our national security, maintain strategic stability and deter any kind of aggression from India.”

The nuclear issue “probably will be discussed, but I don’t think there is any mood in Pakistan to yield on that,” Shuja Nawaz, a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center, said in an interview. “This is a long process. Pakistan is not in a great hurry to stop developing the delivery systems it has.”

Fractious Government

Obama is in a tough spot when engaging with Pakistan given its fractious government and a political spectrum that ranges from friends of the West to those who want to destroy anything related to the U.S., Representative Brad Sherman told Bloomberg reporters and editors in Washington on Tuesday. Sherman of California is the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“I don’t think there’s one Pakistan. I don’t think there’s one Pakistani government,” Sherman said. “But is the Pakistani military fighting and dying to combat terrorists? Yes. Are elements of the Pakistani military funding and aiding terrorists? Yes.”

India and the U.S. announced a nuclear cooperation deal in 2005 to lift a three-decade ban so that India could access civilian nuclear technology and import uranium for fuel. It was approved by the U.S. Congress in 2008.

Pakistan immediately lobbied for a similar deal, but then-U.S. President George W. Bush ruled it out, saying India and Pakistan couldn’t be compared.

China’s Help

Pakistan’s past will make it tough to convince the skeptics. In the 1980s, it accepted Chinese assistance to build a bomb while it was pledging to enrich only enough uranium to produce power. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, confessed publicly in 2004 to running a network that sold technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

China this year said it has helped Pakistan with six of the seven reactors either built or under construction. Most members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group would consider this a violation of rules, making cooperation with Pakistan “impossible” unless it agrees to new commitments, said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association.

Still, violations of the rules are common. Russia flouted them to ship fuel to Indian reactors in 2001. India also ran a secret bomb program and, like Israel and Pakistan, has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

While China has stopped short of publicly backing Pakistan’s aspirations to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group, it has questioned the exemption awarded to India that lets it import uranium from countries including Australia and France.

Any deal is unlikely unless Pakistan agrees to safeguard its nuclear facilities under international rules and give up its tactical nuclear program, said Najam Rafique, director at the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad. Pakistan’s leaders mostly want talks to maintain good ties with the U.S. and China, he said.