Saturday, 29 October 2016

Progress versus disruption, by Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif

I write these lines not as a politician or a chief minister but as a common citizen of Pakistan. Barely 24 months back, we had the infamous Islamabad dharna. Once you cut through the noise and bellicose rhetoric, its only contribution was delaying the launch of the historic CPEC, which is already proving to be a fate-changer for Pakistan. Does it matter if this delay may have been an unintended consequence, as some like to argue? What matters is that the project got postponed by one whole year.
As in the life of an individual, every day matters for a nation. Every day, millions of choices are made and decisions taken. And every choice we make, or choose not to, has consequences. What I am talking about here is exactly one such critically important choice for this country; does one support or reject the promised PTI charge on Islamabad?
There are millions of those who reject it, and thousands others who support it, but I want to hear the voice of the many who are still quiet about it. Because, honestly speaking, silence is not an option here; for we are talking about the future of our country, our children.
There are two conflicting versions here – and one is obviously wrong. And it’s time to call that out, loudly and clearly. Government detractors insist that the impending attack on Islamabad and its law-abiding residents is the only available recourse to evoke a ‘truthful’ response from the prime minister on the Panama Papers issue. Unfortunately, this premise itself is untrue.
The truth is that the Supreme Court of Pakistan is already seized of the matter. The truth is that the prime minister has declared, despite stiff opposition by his legal team, not to challenge the court’s legal jurisdiction to take up the issue and has voluntarily submitted himself and his children to the writ of the court. If seeking the truth was the ‘true’ objective, then the Supreme Court is the forum to do it, for there is nothing above it but Allah Almighty. So isn’t it now time for the other side to tell the truth as well and share the ‘true’ reason for this planned onslaught? Or is it, in truth, a covert attempt to disrupt the ongoing progress?
Curse the blinders of ignorance and selfish motives, which prevent many from seeing the difference between personal greed and the country’s need because even outsiders are talking about Pakistan taking off. The Chinese are lauding the progress of work being done here and have coined the term ‘Punjab Speed’ as an acknowledgement. The outspoken managing director of the IMF, Christine Largade, has described Pakistan’s economic turnaround as “a moment of opportunity”. All our economic indicators are up, terrorism is down, economy is on the rise, hopes have been revived, and hopelessness has evaporated. After a long hiatus, we have finally hit the economic deck running. In order to sustain the momentum, we need uninterrupted forward progress, and not retrogressive disruptions.
Every indicator says life is good and getting better. Our forex reserves are the highest in history. Stock exchanges have touched the highest positive notes and there will be surplus energy in 2018. It was only a few days ago that the World Bank listed Pakistan among the top ten improvers in its latest report of Doing Business 2017, titled ‘Equal Opportunity for All’.
Massive transformation is underway in sectors like infrastructure development, transportation, agriculture, communication, youth development, education, and health etc. But, above all, the nation’s morale is high and positive after many years.
But for any country to walk the arduous road of progress, its people must stand and stand firm. It’s time for every citizen of Pakistan to be counted for his and her country. Staying silent, or what many call being ‘neutral’ is not an option. Each one of us has to be biased towards the country, and must openly reject what is manifestly wrong. Call me wrong if you so feel and I shall respect you for expressing your opinion candidly, but will you respect yourself if you do not speak up for your country and allow a few agitating thousands to forcibly attempt subjugating hundreds of millions to their whims and caprices?
The dharna will change nothing in terms of balance of power. The PML-N is the ruling party because the nation elected it and gave it the mandate. And only the nation can take it away. But what the dharna will, however, change and affect is the pace of our progress. It could have an immediate and disastrous impact on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), something our enemies across the borders and those within have tried their best to do, but failed so far.
 The $51.5 billion CPEC forms a lynchpin in China’s historic initiative to build all regional economies and Allah blessed Pakistan to be in a unique geographical situation to be a hub of growth in the region. The CPEC’s overall economic benefit for Pakistan is calculated to be around $150 billion at the minimum in the short term alone.
Nothing is more injurious to the scheduled implementation of the CPEC than an atmosphere of political instability and turmoil. Already, a number of energy projects are at various phases of implementation. Their commissioning on time will add much-needed power to the national grid and have a huge transformative effect across various sectors. The CPEC holds the key to achieving energy security by replacing darkness with light. The ending of the energy shortages alone will add 2-3 points to our GDP.
The first dharna wreaked havoc on the CPEC by delaying its launch but thanks to our immensely strong friendship bond with China, the CPEC and Pakistan survived.
Next time around, we may not be that fortunate because not even the best of friends can wait forever for a country to grapple with its internal demons. Time and tide wait for no one and if we lose the surf, we lose the surge.
The ludicrous logic is being paraded nowadays that ‘the autocracy of majority of numbers is not acceptable’. Democracy may have many shortcomings. Sure, it is an evolving mechanism and must have the capacity to accept change and adapt to the needs of time, but only through an orderly legal process and not by anarchy on the streets. Anarchy breeds chaos and chaos consumes nations, not build them.
We are a nation in the midst of a war. Terrorism is down but not completely out. The valiant armed forces sacrificed thousands of its brave soldiers and officers as did the police and other law-enforcement agencies. But can we ever allow tyranny of religious extremism to be replaced with tyranny of political extremism? Accept anarchy over order?
I can fathom one political leader’s desperation to claim a legacy even at the cost of irreparable damage to the country but I feel compelled to say that notoriety is not a legacy; it’s a curse. Legacies of honour are not carved out of slogans or built upon empty rhetoric. They emerge over time, crafted painstakingly through service to the people. Honourable legacies can only be earned, and not snatched through anarchy or mob rule.
The writer is the chief minister of Punjab.
Twitter: @CMShehbaz

Friday, 28 October 2016

Why Pakistan needs to look beyond CPEC, Jazib Nelson

Why Pakistan needs to look beyond CPEC, Jazib Nelson
Chinese net FDI has witnessed almost a 100 percent surge in FY16. Do we really need to worry about this trend? Yes, we do. It is the matter of simple principle. We are not putting our eggs in many baskets. Rather, it is just one and that is a Chinese bask
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has become the mother of all foreign investments in Pakistan. And there is truth to this. What started as a $46 billion set of projects has now increased to $51 billion as China has recently also committed to fund Karachi-Lahore rail line under CPEC. This price tag alone places it on par with all foreign investments to Pakistan put together.
Every talk show on Pakistan’s economy has this segment about CPEC. Every seminar or conference on any issue of Pakistani economy that any cabinet minister turns up at, there are talks of CPEC. As a nation, we are investing way too much in this silk handshake. But then, it makes sense. What else do we have at the moment other than CPEC? It is true what they all say: CPEC is a game-changer for the country.
Still, I believe our obsession is going way too far here. What really convinced me towards this realisation was that Pakistan has witnessed net outflow of foreign investment worth $130.5 million during FY16 (July-September) from the United States of America (USA). Such outflows of different scales were also observed from Turkey, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Philippines, Luxembourg, and Germany. Interestingly, some of these countries have always been among major investing countries to Pakistan. Chinese net FDI, on the contrary, has witnessed almost a 100 percent surge in FY16. Do we really need to worry about this trend? Yes, we do.
It is the matter of simple principle. We are not putting our eggs in many baskets. Rather, it is just one and that is a Chinese basket. To me, as much as it can strengthen Pakistan, it can make us increasingly vulnerable as well.
There are precedents to this. China has made massive investments in Latin American economies. Just like CPEC they were heavy on the infrastructure side. As much as these countries imported merchandise from China, they also imported aftershocks of a Chinese slowdown. This was followed by inflation increasing by 700 percent in Venezuela. Stock markets of Brazil, Chile, and Peru tumbled as negative sentiments took hold. Exports also skidded in Latin American economies. Similarly, any future slowdown in Chinese economy can have negative bearings on our economy as well given our increasing future connectivity with China through CPEC. In the same vein, our foreign direct investment flow will also become susceptible to Chinese money.
But these can be offset by boom years of Chinese growth. So where can major risks come from that can have widespread and sustained implication for Pakistan? To me, the biggest of them all can come from energy projects.
Most of the CPEC energy projects are coal-based, which are being built under build-own-transfer principle. Any Chinese company building a power plant will own it once it is completed, and after securing an agreed-upon profit margin will transfer the power plant to the government of Pakistan. So what can the government do with such a large scale of power infrastructures? It sure can’t run them all by itself. One option can be to contract them out to foreign investors. But given that world economies are moving away from fossil-fuels based energy — particularly coal-based — to renewables, government may find it hard to rope in many foreign investors.
This shift towards renewable source of energy is based on efforts to contain global warming through curbing carbon dioxide emissions. Energy produced through fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas are high in carbon content, while energy produced through renewable sources like solar, wind, and nuclear are virtually carbon-free. Based on this premise, not many international banks are going to finance a purchase of a coal-based power plant.
The result? These power plants can become a fiscal liability. A liability worth billions of dollars. Ideally, in this scenario, Pakistan should look to hedge against such potential risks by investing its time in other opportunities as well. Pakistan should look beyond CPEC.
One way to accomplish this is to ensure that policy incentives shouldn’t just be a Chinese prerogative only; these incentives should be accorded across the board to all foreign investors. It is like following the famous dictum in finance of putting ones’ eggs in many baskets, and not just one. Pakistan should also put its eggs in many baskets wrapped in different colours not just red.
The writer is a research associate at the Policy Research Institute of Market Economy

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Sensational exposé - Security leaks confirm 98.7% Pakistanis are foreign agents NADEEM F. PARACHA

The leak has come in the shape of a hefty document prepared from sources which include various local and foreign intelligence agencies.
The document/report claims that 98.7% Pakistanis are agents of one foreign intelligence agency or the other.
According to the report, about 40.2% Pakistanis are Indian agents; 33.3% are American agents; 11% are British agents; 6.2% are Iranian agents; 3.1% are Afghan agents; 3% are dual Indian and American agents; 1.1% are Guatemalan agents; and at least one Pakistani is a Ugandan agent.
Our investigation confirms that the report was leaked by the Ugandan agent after his monthly stipend was halted by the Ugandan government due to his failure to recruit Pakistanis other than himself.
We are still trying to determine what Uganda’s intelligence agency wanted from him.
But our initial inquiry suggests that it had something to do with mangoes.
Before being leaked to Dawn, the report was first partially leaked on the popular social media website, LinkedIn. Immediately, it created a stir in the social media realm and was picked up by the media cells of various political parties.
First to comment on it was the official PTI twitter account which tweeted: Traitor Nawaz exposed! Trillions looted to please India/US/UK/Afghanistan/Iran/Guatemala/Uganda.
The account then immediately followed up this tweet with the following one: Traitor government doing blasts on behalf of Modi, Obama, Ghani & Pablo Escobar.
The official PML-N twitter account responded with this tweet: Truth is out! Imran Khan funded by India/US/UK/Afghanistan/Iran/Guatemala/Uganda.
The account immediately followed up this tweet with the following one: Imran doing dharnas on behalf of Modi, Obama, Ghani & Scarface.
A vicious battle of tweets soon ensued between supporters of both parties. Talking to Dawn, an active member of PTI’s social media team said: "Traitor Nawaz daughter Maryam mota group media cell funded by RAW, CIA, Geo, Dawn Bread looting trillions, zillions doing bum blasts to stop muscular Atlas from wiping corruption from face of Pakistan 98.7% guarantee agents against us bleed green patriot opticians oh what a feeling jab aye ga Imran baray gi shaan banay ga naya Pakistan …"
When a member of the alleged ‘mota group’ which allegedly runs PML-N’s media cell was allegedly contacted, he allegedly said: "what allegedly, allegedly you are talkings? Our mota group true patriotic group. Our Nawaz elected by 98.7% Pakistani voters and motors but this traitor Khan and his traitor party putting heavy heavy stones on path to progress on behest of foreign enemies of nation. One punch from us break teeths of mommy-daddies but our leader Nawaz tell saber karo and keep patient because all will be wells by grace of orange line and Mao tse-Tung …"
As the battle between the two parties got intense on social media, PTI chairman Imran Khan held an emergency press conference at his Islamabad residence. He was flanked by top party men and Sheikh Rashid Ahmad of the one-man Awami Muslim League.
Imran told reporters: "The leaked report only confirms what I have been saying for years. 98.7% members of the PML-N are corrupt. They do not want me to turn Pakistan into a modernistic traditionalistic Scandinavian Islamic welfare capitalistic socialistic democratic caliphate!"
When a journalist reminded him that the report mentions 98.7% of all Pakistanis, Imran replied: "98.7% PML-N voters. All corrupt."
When the same journalist told him that the report was about agents and not corruption, Imran shot back: "You must be from Geo."
When the journalist said he wasn’t, Imran retorted: "Then maybe Dawn Bread. All corrupt." When the journalist decided to walk out in protest, PTI leaders began to chant, "Go, Nawaz, Go! Go, Nawaz, Go!"
However, Sheikh Rashid intervened and requested the journalist to return. He told reporters: "Please, understand. Pakistan standing on very fragile turn. Media our best partners and lovers, except few traitor ones, but, as the report confirms, 98.7% media houses support our stand on corruption."
When told that the report mentioned nothing of the sort, Sheikh got agitated and announced: "I have part of report which say this. I will only show on patriotic TV channels at 8pm sharp. Watch it. You can also catch repeat telecast at 11.05 pm sharp or watch recording on YouTube at any pm or am sharp. Okay?"
Meanwhile, in Lahore, Minister of Information, Parvez Rashid, held his own presser. He told the gathered media personnel: "This leaked document which landed in my LinkedIn inbox and will soon be published by newspapers around the globe, has once and for all verified the fact that 98.7% policies and actions of Imran Khan and his party are being funded by enemy countries to derail our government’s fantastic initiatives to turn Pakistan into a modernistic traditionalistic Middle-Eastern Chinese monarchic democracy."
When told by a journalist that the report has mentioned 98.7% of all Pakistanis and not just PTI members, the minister replied: "You must be from ARY." When the journalist told him he wasn’t, the minister said: "then maybe from Bol."
When the journalist decided to walk out in protest, the minister said: "Go. If you don’t like our Pakistan then go to Uganda which pays you."
Another leading PML-N man, Abid Sher Ali, intervened and managed to make the journalist return after promising him a free run of his personal swimming pool, a pair of St. Michael’s swimming trunks and a centrespread of him in the same trunks in the fashion weekly, Hello. To this, the defence minister, Khwaja Asif, retorted, "Kuch sharam, kuch haya …"
Eventually, other political parties also stepped into the fray. In a tweet, the chairperson of the PPP, Bilawal Bhutto, said: "Zinda hai Bhutto zinda hai, 98.7% zinda hai"
He further elaborated this rhetorical reaction in another tweet: No one is an agent in Pakistan. Stop this. Only Modi ka jo yaar hai wo 98.7% ghdaar hai.’
In yet another tweet he further clarified: By this I mean only 1.3% Pakistanis are agents. Rest 98.7% are all Bhuttos.
In a press statement, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the chief of JUI-F, said: "This is clearly a document which was concocted by Imran Khan because it doesn’t mention Israel. Had it not been concocted by Imran Khan, then it would also have mentioned Israel." He said that JUI-F was 98.7% sure about this.
While talking to Dawn, chief of the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), Sirajul Haq, said: "The figures given in the report are not correct. 99.99% Pakistanis are agents and only .1% are true patriots."
He said all of these .1% Pakistanis were members of JI and that the party will be awarding all of them the Al-Dil-Bola-Al-Pakola Award – an award which the party believes was first introduced in the 8th century CE by the founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Bin Qasim.
Chief of the Jamaatul Dawa (JuD), Hafiz Saeed, said: "Listen BuD, if I CuD, then I WuD turn 100% Pakistani brothers and sisters, and sisters who have become brothers, into committed charity workers with charity offices around the WuD in 80 days. But some agents WuD like to impose a ban on JuD, but rest assured, they will eat MuD!"
He was speaking during a show on a TV channel, Neho, which is famous for bringing the people of Pakistan the wisdom and brilliance of wise and brilliant intellectuals who wisely and brilliantly hate Polish agent, Malala Yusufzai.
MQM-London’s chief, Altaf Hussain, didn’t say anything. But he did make a curious smooching sound which the media is now trying to decipher. MQM-Karachi said that the report proved that 98.7% Karachiites are with MQM-Pakistan.
But Mustafa Kamal’s Pak Sar Zameen Party rubbished the claim by stating that MQM-London and MQM-Pakistan were both full of enemy agents and that 98.7% Karachiites would be voting for Pak Sar Zameen Party. Mustafa Kamal told Dawn that Altaf’s smooches were a signal to his agents in Pakistan to attack anti-Altaf patriots on next year’s Valentine’s Day.
The leaked report also drew reactions from India. Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, told Indian TV anchor, Arnab Goswami, "you are very dashing and sexy patriot."
Goswami pumped up his chest, expanded his nostrils and began to beat his chests with his fists, all the while making loud gorilla noises. PM Modi smiled and then jumped behind the pumped up Goswami to snap a selfie with him.
When the producer of the show asked Goswami to talk about the leaked report, Goswami declared that the producer was a Pakistani agent and should be lynched for storing beef in his refrigerator. PM Modi smiled and said, "you are very hunky patriot."
Goswami jumped up and began to swing from a ceiling fan, all the while shouting, "Om Puri, you Pakistani beefeater, leave India and go to Lahore!’ PM Modi smiled and said, ‘Om Puri has very bad skin. No selfie."
Till the filing of this report, Goswami was said to be still swinging from the fan and cursing Puri, while PM Modi had turned his attention to Adnan Sami Khan, calling him "very willowy patriot after quitting meat and dieting on Gujarat cabbage. Very slender and slim. 98.7%."

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Pakistan’s Crackdown on Terror Financing, all For Show? Umer Ali

Pakistan’s Crackdown on Terror Financing, all For Show?
Pakistan’s government appears to crack down on financing for proscribed groups, but will the policy make a difference?
By Umer Ali    October 18, 2016
In a major move, which for some is a quite familiar one, the State Bank of Pakistan directed all banks across the country to freeze the accounts of 2,021 individuals listed in the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act. Formulated in 1997, the Anti-Terrorism Act allows the government to list individuals such that they are required to seek police permission to enter an area, empowering law enforcement agencies to observe their movements, among other things.
“All banks, development finance institutions, and microfinance banks have been advised to take immediate action as per requirement of the law against individuals, whose names are included in the lists of fourth schedulers provided by the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA),” a State Bank of Pakistan source told Dawn.
The list is dominated by representatives and leaders of various sectarian outfits, including well-known names like Ahmed Ludhianvi of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), Aurangzeb Farooqi of ASWJ, Mullah Abdul Aziz of Lal Masjid, and Ramzan Mengal of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
Interestingly, however, there is no mention of any office-bearer of Kashmir-related groups like Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), or Hizbul Mujahideen (HuM).
In Pakistan, many see this move with suspicion, referring to similar steps in the past that turned out to be highly ineffective.
For example when, for the first time ever, Pervez Musharraf banned jihadi outfits fighting in Kashmir and Afghanistan, declaring his support for the U.S.-led war against terror. Even then, these groups changed their names and continued to operate like before.
Owais Tohid, a veteran journalist who covered these groups for a decade, reported the same in his December 2003 piece for Newsline Magazine. Titled “And the Jihad goes on,” the piece explored the ways through which the banned groups continued their activities.
“Prominent leaders like Masood Azhar, chief of Jaish-e-Mohammad, and Maulana Fazl-ur Rehman Khalil, head of the banned Harkatul Mujahideen, issued statements in the Punjab, delivered addresses urging participants to come forward for jihad,” Tohid wrote.
In his now 13-year-old report, he discovered, “About 600 leaders and members of the banned groups have been asked to furnish surety bonds of good conduct, involving surety money of 100,000 rupees.”
He further reported that thousands of copies of jihadi newspapers and magazines were being sold on a daily basis.
Thirteen years on, Pakistan is still struggling to put effective curbs on the very same outfits.
In a 2015 article published by the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS), Safiya Aftab observed:
An important Counter Terrorism activity is denting the militant economy, through all possible ways: tracing the financial mechanisms of funding used by militants, neutralizing those sources, and preventing banned outfits from raising funds domestically or internationally.
She continued, “This element has received relatively little attention in Pakistan, for a variety of reasons like general lack of expertise in financial crime, and lack of appreciation of the intricacies of the militant economy.”
Amir Rana, the director of PIPS, believes that most of these groups generate funds through bank robberies, smuggling, and kidnapping for ransom. Commenting on why the State Bank of Pakistan’s move might not be effective, he says, “While the heads of many sectarian groups have been included in the list, it’s a given fact that their bank accounts wouldn’t have much of the money being generated through different means.”
“These groups hold several other accounts, through which large transactions are processed. Banning just the official accounts is not going to change anything.”
Senior journalist Azaz Syed, who works with Geo News, agrees that freezing the official bank accounts of selected individuals won’t change much. “Around 80 percent of their money comes through illegal means and it never reaches the bank accounts,” he says.
“This might just be a mere eyewash because most of their transactions are made in cash, hence there is no point freezing their bank accounts.”
Syed broke the news of the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), which suspended the citizenship of 2,021 suspects linked with militant and sectarian groups last week.
“Prominent names on the list whose identity cards have been blocked include those of religious personalities including Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat leader Maulana Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz, Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen leader Allama Maqsood Ali Domki, and Mohsin Najfi,” he reported.
While the move received significant praise from certain quarters who deemed it a necessary step in the right direction, many human rights activists, lawyers, and journalists declared it to be a grave violation of basic human rights.
Azaz Syed himself takes the same view. “Instead of acting against the hardened terrorists, government is suspending the citizenships of many individuals on the basis of mere suspicion,” he says.
He added, “There is no court order to suspend their citizenship as well, which makes the order even more questionable.”
Syed further says that the absence of Kashmir-linked jihadi groups is big point of ambiguity on the supposed shift in state’s counterterror paradigm.
In an explosive scoop last week, Dawn’s senior staffer Cyril Almeida revealed a serious confrontation between civil-military leadership in a recent, undisclosed meeting.
Asking the military to act effectively against terrorists of all hues, the civilian government reportedly warned that Pakistan would face international isolation otherwise.
The highlight of this meeting, as reported by Almeida, was the “stunning and unexpectedly bold intervention” by Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif who blasted the director general of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Lt. General Rizwan Akhtar, by saying that whenever his government acted against certain militants, ISI worked behind the scenes to set them free.
The exchange corroborated this writer’s report for The Diplomat, in which senior civilian security official lamented the military’s intervention when Punjab’s Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) raided JeM strongholds.
Almeida further reported that DG ISI Rizwan Akhtar would now visit all four provinces accompanied by the National Security Advisor Naseer Khan Janjua to meet the apex committees, as well as ISI sector commanders.
The message of these meetings, one of which Almeida claimed already took place in Lahore, is that military-led intelligence agencies are not to interfere if law enforcement acts against militant groups that are banned or until now considered off-limits for civilian action.
After a suicide attack killed over hundred people on Easter eve this March, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered the immediate arrest of suspects on the Fourth Schedule list. However, this wasn’t followed up and the news died out.
Earlier in 2015, a month after the horrible Army Public School attack in Peshawar in late-2014 that killed scores of children, Pakistan announced the freezing of JuD bank accounts. The announcement coincided with the visit of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who appreciated the move.
A document acquired by Dawn confirmed the proscribing of Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami, Harkat-ul-Mujahi­deen, Falah-i-Insaniat Foun­dation, Ummah Tameer-i-Nau, Haji Khairullah Hajji Sattar Money Exchange, Rahat Limited, Roshan Money Exchange, Al Akhtar Trust, Al Rashid Trust, the Haqqani network, and Jamaat-ud-Dawa.
However, in recent months, JuD’s activities have only increased, with its charity wing, Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF), expanding its “relief operations” to the rural areas of Sindh and Balochistan.
JuD is not the only group operating freely inside Pakistan, despite several claims by the government. In the month of Ramzan (Ramadan), Jaish-e-Mohammad’s charity wing, Al-Rehmat trust, openly collected donations outside mosques in Karachi, often in the presence of Pakistan Rangers personnel.
The Al-Rashid Trust, which is notoriously known for its terror network in Pakistan and Afghanistan, was also banned twice by the government. It changed its name to the Al-Ameen Trust and resumed its operations throughout the country. Even today, it’s operating freely under the name of the Maymar Trust.
Despite this history of deliberate inefficiency by the government, Fahd Hamayun, the program and research manager at Pakistan’s Jinnah Institute, believes the recent moves to be a good step forward. “This is a step in the right direction and should necessitate some level of parliamentary oversight to ensure effective implementation. Turning off the taps on terrorism financing is essential if the government is keen to demonstrate its commitment to the National Action Plan,” he says.
Criticizing the reluctance of the government to update the Fourth Schedule list, he adds, “So far the Interior Ministry’s reluctance to update its list of proscribed organizations is indicative of state lethargy in putting a blanket ban on all terror groups.”
In the end, this move will either turn out to just be for show or will actually show results – only time will tell what the government of Pakistan has planned to finally put an end to the operations of banned militant and sectarian groups in the country.
Umer Ali is a freelance journalist based in Pakistan. He covers human rights, social issues, terrorism and more. He can be reached on Twitter at @iamumer1
Shahid Afzal Khan also contributed in the research of this story.

Why India Pakistan could be a big headache for the next US president, By Barkha Dutt

Why India Pakistan could be a big headache for the next US president
By Barkha Dutt    October 25 at 12:27 PM
Barkha Dutt is an award-winning TV journalist and anchor with more than two decades of reporting experience. She is the author of “This Unquiet Land: Stories from India’s Fault Lines.” Dutt is based in New Delhi.
In an election campaign that has made Donald Trump look like a crazy, self-imploding clown, here are two statements the Republican presidential nominee has made that are indisputably true. The first was his observation that airports in the United States are like those in a (so-called) “Third World country.” The second was his comment that the India-Pakistan equation is a “very, very hot tinderbox.”
Indians and Pakistanis who agree on nothing these days found themselves nervously giggling in unison at Trump’s offer to “mediate” between the two countries. But unwittingly the bombastic candidate actually flagged one of the foreign policy challenges that could necessitate the next U.S. president’s early attention.
In the likely event of a Hillary Clinton win, her administration will no longer be able to count on New Delhi displaying what is known as strategic restraint; Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has dramatically altered the traditional Pakistan doctrine with several high-risk firsts. None of the old rules apply.
Modi’s electoral campaign in 2014 mercilessly mocked India’s previous Congress government for being too soft on Pakistan and promised a muscular response to Islamabad-backed terrorists; his boasting of having a 56-inch chest came to be the ultimate metaphor for his government’s machismo. But armed with the largest political victory by any prime minister in 30 years, Modi in fact ended up displaying an audacious appetite for gambling on peace instead.

In May 2014, in a historic first, Modi invited Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to his oath-taking ceremony. In December 2015, he showed the kind of dramatic gumption no leader before him had when he made a surprise unscheduled visit to Lahore to wish Sharif well on his birthday. When this trip was followed by a terrorist attack on an Indian air force installation, he held his nerve and allowed Pakistani investigators, including one from the Pakistani spy agency ISI, to visit the military base- another contentious first.
After these initiatives failed, Modi channeled the same capacity for taking perilous but strong-willed chances by turning hard line on Pakistan. The policy shift came earlier this year during a two-month period of civilian unrest in the Kashmir Valley spurred on by the killing of a local militant, Burhan Wani. The Modi government saw the internal dimension of anger and alienation as distinct from Pakistan’s fueling of the fire. A ratcheted-up campaign by the Sharif government to present Wani on the international stage as a sort of victim-hero prompted a furious India to underscore human rights violations by Pakistan in its own province of Baluchistan. Modi railed against these atrocities while addressing the nation on India’s Independence Day in the presence of the global diplomatic corps. This was a radical departure from the policy of all previous governments; India was challenging not just Pakistan, but China as well — the province is critical for Beijing’s proposed $46 billion economic corridorthat seeks to connect Xinjiang to the Gwadar port in Balochistan.
Then came the attack on an army camp in Kashmir in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed. Eleven days later, in the first such acknowledgment of its kind, the Modi government went public with the fact that special forces commandos had crossed the line of control (a military control line that serves as the de facto frontier separating Kashmir on the Indian side from the Pakistani side) to conduct surgical strikes on terror launchpads from where the Pakistani military facilitates the crossing over of armed infiltrators into Indian territory.

This is now India’s new normal — an attempt to increase the cost of terrorism for Pakistan and call out what many in Modi’s party called the “nuclear bogey.”  The conventional wisdom of ‘nuclear deterrence’ — that fears of escalation between two nuclear powers would hold back India from an officially owned punitive response to terrorism — has been openly challenged.
India’s message was not just for Pakistan but also for countries such as the United States that have long counted on the deterrence theory to manage regional tensions. Writers including George Perkovich and Toby Dalton (“Not War, Not Peace“) have argued that that a military counterattack by India could escalate to “destruction beyond imagination” but that has not happened — at least so far. The theater of conflict is currently confined to Jammu and Kashmir along the 124 mile-long international border and the 450-mile stretch of the line of control where a 13-year-old cease-fire is under threat. Mortar fire has returned to areas where even small-arms weapons had fallen more or less silent.
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How will (and should) the United States respond if the Indo-Pak border flares up further? Another terror strike on India’s mainland could send all calculations awry.
In contrast to Trump’s vague generalizations, Clinton has a keen understanding of how Pakistan’s “deep state” has for decades used terrorism as a virtual weapon of asymmetric warfare against India. In June 2014, Clinton told me in an interview that elements within the Pakistani Army and its main spy agency, the ISI, “were under the mistaken view that having these kinds of proxies vis-à-vis India, vis-à-vis Afghanistan was in Pakistan’s interests, not just the military’s interest, but in their sovereign interest.” She went on to compare this to “keeping poisonous snakes in your backyard expecting they will only bite your neighbor’’ as a commentary on how jihadists and obscurantists had begun to devour Pakistan from the inside.
As secretary of state, Clinton  announced a $10 million bounty for information leading to the arrest of Hafiz Saeed, key architect of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai on Nov. 26, 2008 and the Pakistan-based head of the Lakshar-e-Taiba. One-hundred and sixty-six people were killed in the 72-hour siege, including six Americans. Clinton told me she was struck by how “difficult” it must have been for India to show “restraint” after the attacks.

That restraint can no longer be taken for granted — that’s India’s messaging to Washington. Given Clinton’s proud mention of monitoring the operation that took out Osama bin Laden from his hideout in Pakistan (“While you were hosting ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’ Donald”), there is an expectation in India that she will bring some of her famed hawkishness to her administration’s Pakistan policy. No blank checks on military aid; stringent economic pressure to shut down terror groups; and a foreign policy grammar that doesn’t club India and Pakistan together, or worse, separate them only by a hyphen.
In September, in a closed-door Virginia fundraiser, Clinton warned of the dangers of a jihadist coup in Pakistan and the possibility of “suicide nuclear bombers.” She gets it. Which means in her early days in the Oval Office, Clinton may need to do some plain-speaking with Pakistan much sooner than she had bargained for.

The Kashmir issue - Let’s get the facts straight, by Kamran Siddiqui

The Kashmir issue is once again bringing Pakistan and India close to another armed conflict. The consequences of such conflict this time however, could be far more devastating for both countries than previous. The issue is alive for 68 years and there are still no signs of a peaceful settlement. While the public sentiments are high in both countries, the primary problem on Pakistan side is that these emotions are mostly built on biased history. Hence, it is critically important to get the facts straight because the recognition of factual grounds certainly help in looking at this problem from a rational perspective that will most likely help in reaching an appropriate solution. I have used a Q&A approach to elucidate the facts.
Question: Does Pakistan have a legal claim on the State of Kashmir?
Answer: No. Legally, the entire State of Kashmir is part of India. This right was awarded according to the Instrument of Accession signed by the Maharaja of Kashmir, Hari Singh, on October 26, 1947. Maharaja of Kashmir used his right as per Indian Independence Act 1947, which gave him authority of accede to either India or Pakistan. If the plebiscite is held in Kashmir and the decision is in Pakistan’s favor only then Pakistan has a legal claim on Kashmir.
Question: Did Maharaja of Kashmir made up his mind to join India at the time of partition?
Answer: No, the Maharaja of Kashmir had not reached a decision whether to join Pakistan or India by the time of partition and hence wanted to sign Standstill Agreements with both Pakistan and India i.e. buying more time to reach a decision. Pakistan agreed on the Standstill agreement while India invited a representative of Kashmiri government for negotiations. Instead of negotiating a better deal with Maharaja, the Pakistani government decided a military invasion of Kashmir. However, after the refusal from the British commander in chief as it violates the Indian Independence Act, Pakistani government covertly supported Pathan tribal militias to enter Kashmir and start fighting. Maharaja appealed to India to send troops but India declined this request since Kashmir was not part of India. Then Maharaja signed the Instrument of Accession to officially join India. India then sent its troops to fight tribal militias. Thus, the illegal intrusion by Pakistan forced Maharaja to reach a decision in favor of India.
Question: Why Pakistan not able to force India to conduct plebiscite in Kashmir as per UN Security Council resolution of April 21, 1948?
Answer: Because Pakistan itself has not demonstrated its sincerity to act according to this UN resolution. Unfortunately, those Pakistanis who strongly belief that UN resolution must be enforced most likely have not read the content of the resolution. The first action item of this resolution is the withdrawal of Pakistani troops and militias from Kashmir. It other words, the primary requirement to arrange plebiscite is the withdrawal of Pakistani forces/militias from the entire Kashmir valley under Pakistani control including Gilgit and Bultistan. India was allowed to keep its forces in the entire Kashmir state but in reduced numbers primarily to maintain the law and order. Has Pakistan ever showed its willingness to fulfill condition on its part, over the last 67 years? When Pakistan never fulfilled the first condition, how can it force India to fulfill the plebiscite condition (seventh action item in the resolution)?  
Despite its weak legal position, Pakistan had some grounds to make its case for Kashmir. One argument was based on Pakistan’s ideological claim that it was created for Indian Muslims and comprised of all Muslim majority provinces in India. Since Kashmir is also a Muslim majority state, it naturally belongs to Pakistan. While this argument had logical basis, Pakistan had lost this argument after the separation of East Pakistan. The other argument was based on Pakistan’s dependency on water resources from Kashmir for its economic survival. However, history has witnessed that over last 68 years, the economy of Pakistan was not hampered due to the Indian control on these resources, along with the strained relations with India. This leads to a logical conclusion that as long as Pakistan gets its due share of water resources as per Indus water treaty, it can survive without Kashmir.
As the above facts and arguments show, at present the position of Pakistan on Kashmir issue is much weaker than what Pakistani people think. Therefore, it is time for the people of Pakistan to take these facts into consideration and think realistically whether it is wise for their country to put everything on stake for this issue and continue pouring a big portion of its financial resources via defense budget, which otherwise can be spent on their well being. It might be much better for both countries to make the line of control the permanent international border and ease the movement of Kashmiri people across it, improve bilateral relations, reduce defense spending and strengthen the economic cooperation.   
Kamran Siddiqui is a Professor at the University of Western Ontario in Canada.