Pakistan’s intelligence service, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) has for years waged a proxy war in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) by aiding and abetting terrorism through terrorist outfits such as Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Hizbul Mujahideen (HM). The service continues to support this proxy war, now being carried out not just through the above mentioned groups but also through their various offshoots like The Resistance Front (TRF), People’s Anti-Fascist Front (PAFF), Jammu Kashmir Gaznavi Force (JKGF), United Liberation Front of Jammu & Kashmir (ULF-J&K) , Kashmir Tigers etc.
Its no secret that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is less about economics and more about strategy – China’s strategy. The veneer of economics and development is maintained only to hide the real driving force behind China pumping in tens of billions of Euros into Pakistan. China is now the largest creditor of Pakistan and the latter is likely to become yet another example of China’s debt trap diplomacy. For China, CPEC has no intrinsic value. The real worth of the projects lies in China having not just a footprint but virtual control of two critical pieces of real estate – Gwadar port and the region of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB).
After all that Pakistan did for the Taliban over the two decades they were fighting against the US-backed Afghan Republic, there was a legitimate expectation in Islamabad that this time around the Taliban would show much greater gratitude and accede to Pakistan’s wish-list on a range of issues.
Ever since the Taliban have re-established their Emirate in Kabul, there is not a single issue on Pakistan’s wish-list that has been ticked by the Taliban : Accepting Durand Line as Border? No; Expelling Baloch insurgents? No; Dismantling, degrading and destroying Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)? No; Keeping India out? No; Inclusive government? No; Allowing education for girls and giving women rights? No!
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Russia on a 2-day official visit the very same day that Vladimir Putin launched an attack on Ukraine. On his arrival at Moscow airport, the South Asian leader was caught on camera gleefully quipping “What a time I have come! so much excitement”. This reaction from the leader of a so-called democratic nation immediately caught media attention and was largely interpreted as Pakistan having thrown its support in favour of Russia on the Ukraine issue. The other interpretation could be Imran Khan’s complete disregard for the international rule based order and a lack of understanding of the gravity of the situation where a sovereign nation’s territorial integrity had been unilaterally violated by Russia.
Pakistan’s association with its nuclear programme and adherence to nuclear safety norms has always been marred by lack of clarity and shrouded in mystery, including the very acquisition of nuclear know how. From the very inception of the process of creating a nuclear weapon, Pakistan was aware that it was not in a position to put together a weapon system on its own. Moreover, Pakistan’s aspiration for acquiring a nuclear weapon saw an element of urgency as it needed to keep pace with India, which was confidently surging ahead with its own self sufficient nuclear program. This desperation compelled Pakistan to resort to unethical means to acquire sub systems for their nuclear program from different sources.
Pakistan has been witnessing a rapid breakdown of its internal administrative machinery, with its police and security forces unable to control the country-wide violence engineered by the supporters of the radical Islamist party, the Tehreek -e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) that has been demanding the ouster of the French Ambassador and halting of trade relations with France. While the spotlight is on the grim domestic security situation with the government being held hostage by the TLP, the condition of its economy and its diplomatic standing is no better.
Chinese President Xi Jinping displayed his expansionist ambitions within a year of taking over as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) when he launched the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that traverses through Asia, Europe and Africa, connecting dozens of countries. The first country that partnered with China on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was Pakistan, when the US$ 62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), comprising of a wide range of infrastructure projects, was signed with much fanfare in 2015. Due to its expanse, the CPEC, often referred in Pakistan as the flagship project of the BRI, provides the observer with a ringside view of the actual objectives and expectations of Xi Jinping from his dream initiative.
Multiple French flags and effigies of President Emmanuel Macron have been burnt all over Pakistan in the last couple of days as Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government encouraged political parties, radical Islamic groups, lawyers and students’ associations to come out to the streets in thousands against the perceived Islamophobia in France.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog, held a virtual plenary session from October 21 to 23. During this session, the various countries on the FATF watchlist, classified on the organization’s “blacklist” and “gray list”, were reviewed. Currently, two countries, North Korea and Iran, are on the “black list” and 16 countries, including Pakistan, on the “gray list” known as heightened surveillance.
On September 2, the trial of the January 2015 terror attack at the Charlie Hebdo office and the Hyper Cacher of Porte de Bagnolet in Paris commenced at the Paris Criminal Court. The same day, the Charlie Hebdo magazine re-printed the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad that had made those who worked in the magazine target of lslamist terrorists. When questioned during his visit to Lebanon, French President Emmanuel Macron said he would not intervene against the reprint of these cartoons, as the press in France enjoys freedom of expression and even the freedom to blaspheme. While Mr. Macron’s statement was well received in France and in most countries around the world, it sparked strong opposition in some countries in the Muslim world.