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2017: cricket ties severed because of blast
Afghanistan has cancelled proposed home and away cricket fixtures with Pakistan following a deadly bomb attack that the country's intelligence agency blamed on terrorists allegedly backed by Islamabad.
Pakistan were set to play their first Twenty20 match in Kabul later this year in what was seen as an opportunity for the neighbours to ease tensions over border skirmishes.The Kabul match, set for July or August, would have been followed by a fixture in Pakistan and a full series. But the Afghanistan Cricket Board issued a strongly worded statement late on Wednesday , cancelling the matches in light of a truck bombing in the city's diplo matic quarter that killed at least 90 people.
No group has claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attack, although the Taliban has denied involvement. “The ACB hereby cancels all kinds of cricket matches and initial mutual relationship agreement with the Pakistan Cricket Board,“ the Afghan board said on its Facebook page. “No agreement of friendly matches and mutual relationship agreement is possible with a country where terrorists are housed and provided safe havens.“
Afghanistan's intelligence agency has blamed the Taliban-allied Haqqani Network for the attack, which has been linked to Pakistan's military in the past.
2019/ Australia to cease all bilateral aid to Pakistan
Australia would cease all aid to Pakistan, including support to programmes helping women, as the funds were being redirected to meet new commitments in the Pacific, according to the latest department of foreign affairs and trade (DFAT) report. The report titled ‘Aid Programme Performance report 2018-19 on Pakistan’ said Pakistan aid programme will be reduced to 19 million Australian dollars in 2019-20, and will fully phase out during 2020-21.
“However aid to Pakistan will continue through DFAT’s regionally and globally funded programmes, including Australia Awards scholarships,” it added. The report said Australia’s development priorities had changed and that the aid funding was being redirected to meet new commitments in the Pacific. “We have commenced responsible wind down planning, focusing on consolidating gains and ensuring the sustainability of results,” the report said.
Australia’s overall foreign aid budget has been slashed by 27% in real terms since 2013 and now makes up less than 1% of federal government spending, an all-time low. The report described the security situation in Pakistan as “volatile” and said tension between Pakistan and India over Kashmir culminating in military exchanges in February 2019 were high. “There were reductions in violence in Punjab and Sindh provinces, but an increase in terrorist activity in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan where a number of Australian funded aid programmes operate,” it said.
Pakistan was moved to the FATF grey list in February 2018 and needs to show progress on its action plan to avoid a potentially damaging blacklisting, the report added. PTI
How Afghanistan was lost/ 2007
March 18, 2007
REVIEWS: How Afghanistan was lost
Reviewed by Zubeida Mustafa
THE message that emerges powerfully from this nondescript looking but informative book is that for Pakistan the chickens of its Afghan policy are coming home to roost. The author, Dr Fazal-ur-Rahim Marwat, who is associate professor at the Pakistan Study Centre in Peshawar, packs so much information in From Muhajir to Mujahid that it is not easy to assimilate it in one reading. There are so many details, names and events thrown together randomly that it takes some time for the reader to get accustomed to the writer’s style. As one wades through the book, all the pieces fall in place like that of a jigsaw puzzle.
In the ’80s when the so-called Afghan freedom fighters were combating the Russian forces in Afghanistan, Pakistan consistently denied having a hand in the insurgency. The myth was faithfully perpetuated that the Afghans were fighting a war against the godless infidels and Pakistan’s only role was that of providing moral support to the Afghans. If Islamabad was extending any material assistance, it was in the form of economic aid and shelter to the three million Afghan refugees who had fled their home, it was claimed. Until he died in a plane crash in 1988, Ziaul Haq did not shift from this stance.
Even in the heydays of the Afghan war, there were critics who refused to accept the Pakistan government’s official line that it was not involved in Afghanistan militarily. Today no one would deny that Pakistan’s intelligence agencies were not simply backing the Afghan fighters — the so-called mujahideen — they were actually conducting their war for them. Their aim? To extend Islamabad’s control over Afghan territory by controlling the mujahideen. Thus it hoped to realise its age old dream of gaining strategic depth.
The truth of the Afghan war has been exposed by many writers. John Cooley (Unholy Wars), George Crile (Charlie Wilson’s War), Steve Coll (Ghost Wars), Ahmad Rashid (Taliban) and Mohammad Yusaf and Mark Adkin (The Bear Trap) tell the story of the Afghan war very comprehensively. Dr Marwat’s book is a replay of this narrative albeit with a new dimension. He adds his own personal insight and knowledgeable analysis to it. This makes the book a worthwhile source of authentic information on Afghanistan.
The general perception of the Afghan problem is that trouble in that country began with the Soviet military intervention in December 1979. But the fact is that the crisis had begun to build up much before that. Since the Saur revolution of 1978 that brought the PDPA to power in Kabul, Pakistan started meddling in Afghan affairs. Some Islamist militants, who fled their homes after Sardar Daud overthrew the monarchy in 1973, were armed by Pakistan and sent back into Afghanistan to destabilise that country. Since the power of the traditional leadership comprising maliks and tribal chieftains had been broken after the fall of the monarchy, it was easier for Pakistan to fish in the troubled waters of Afghanistan. The United States also jumped into the fray and supplied arms to the insurgents.
The Soviet invasion forced difficult choices on Pakistan. It could either acquiesce in the Soviet presence across the Durand Line or confront it. It chose the latter but in typical Ziaul Haq style. Officially Pakistan’s policy took the form of vehement protest in international forums against the Soviet “invasion”. Covertly Pakistan provided active assistance to the Afghan resistance. In this way Islamabad hoped to preempt any Soviet expansion southwards and win the backing of the west without incurring the risk of a direct attack from the Russians. The aim was also to win access to Afghanistan.
The formulation of Pakistan’s Afghan policy involved a number of actors the most significant being the army leadership comprising the key generals and corp commanders, the president, the finance minister and the foreign minister. An infrastructure was also created to formulate the strategy and trap the refugees in the CIA/ISI’s scheme of things. The main institutions set up were the Afghan cell and the Afghan Refugee Commissionerate. The cell met frequently and operated above the foreign ministry.
The Afghans leading the insurgency grouped themselves into parties, some of which were Peshawar-based and others were closer to Iran. Every refugee was forced to declare allegiance to one party or the other — that was the only way he could draw his rations. Thus the simple muhajir became the gun-wielding mujahid and provided cannon fodder to the freedom struggle. That would also explain why the mujahideen had to work hard to indoctrinate the refugees. In this context the schools that were set up to educate the refugee children served a useful purpose. Textbooks preaching jihad and developed by the Americans proved to be an effective tool.
Pakistan’s goal was to establish its influence in Afghanistan via the mujahideen. It could not succeed in its mission mainly because the various Islamist parties failed to come together for a common cause. The infighting among them intensified so much so that it became impossible for them to operate as a single force. At one stage 48 groups were conducting the jihad in Afghanistan. But they were working at cross-purposes. Pakistan was also a factor in this fragmentation because it had its favourites who were shamelessly promoted — Gulbadin Hekmatyar being the most notorious. Naturally enough this approach weakened the mujahideen who at one time were believed to have 73,000 fighters and 151,000 supporters.
The convergence of Ziaul Haq’s interests in Afghanistan with America’s global strategic goals helped both sustain and win the war. But it was a Pyrrhic victory as we know today. What was jihad for the Islamists, badal (revenge) for the common Afghan and a political coup against the Pakhtoon nationalists for the military leadership in Islamabad resulted in the “de-secularisation”, “de-liberalisation”, “kalashnikovisation” and the “Talibanisation” of Afghanistan. The educated classes and the intellectuals were wiped out or driven away from the country leaving it in the hands of an ignorant and obscurantist leadership — until 9/11 changed the scenario.
Dr Marwat very strongly concludes that violence does not bring durable peace. The solution lies in a political dialogue. The author does not, however, offer any way out of the present morass which has spread through the region.
From Muhajir to Mujahid: Politics of War Through Aid By Dr Fazal-ur-Rahim Marwat Edited by Dr Parvez Khan Toru Pakistan Study Centre, University of Peshawar ISBN 969-8928-03-0 243pp. Rs300 Reviewed by Zubeida Mustafa
Trans-border movement restricted/ 2017
Afghan authorities prohibited the entry of Pakistan nationals into Kabul without proper documents, officials said.
The move comes seven months after Islamabad introduced stringent border control measures in a bid to “prevent the movement of militants into Pakistan“. According to experts, thousands of tribesmen may bear the brunt of the policy as they have families on both sides.
Keeping in view the new order, authorities displayed banners at various points in Torkham reminding Pakistanis that they would not be permitted to cross the border and enter Afghanistan without their passports from January 1, 2017. Security on the Pak-Afghan border was also tightened and extra contingents of security personnel deployed at various points.
According to officials, the Shinwari tribals, living on both sides of the Durand Line, have been exempted as they possess temporary `Rahdari cards issued by the Khy ber Agency political administration. However, others who had fled to Afghanistan, would be properly interrogated on suspicion of links to Taliban. Afghans have long blamed Pakistan for violence by Taliban insurgents in their country, an accusation that Islamabad denies.
Thousands fled Pakistan following the launch of military operation in tribal areas in June 2014. According to sources in the secretariat for tribal regions, around 93,000 Pakistani families are registered in Afghanistan.