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India’s Proposal For A Global “Terrorism” Conference Will Probably Backfire

By Andrew Korybko | EurasiaFuture | 2019-06-09

Indian Prime Minister Modi proposed a global “terrorism” conference while speaking in the Maldives during his first foreign trip following last month’s resounding re-election victory, but while this idea is obviously intended to contribute to his failed policy of “isolating” the global pivot state of Pakistan, it’ll probably backfire by drawing attention to his country’s policy of state terrorism against the Kashmiris, providing a platform for India’s new American-“Israeli”-Saudi allies to fearmonger about Iran, and putting Russia and the US in an awkward position for their diplomatic peacemaking ties with the Taliban.

Shifting The Blame For Regional Instability

Indian Prime Minister Modi is on his first foreign trip since winning a resounding re-election victory last month, during which time he told the Maldivian parliament that the world needs to urgently convene a global conference on “terrorism”. His supplementary remarks about “state-sponsored terrorism” and how some “people still try to create notions of ‘good terrorist, bad terrorist’” were interpreted as being aimed against the global pivot state of Pakistan’s political support for the Kashmiri freedom movement that India regards as “terrorists”, strongly insinuating that the intent behind Modi’s initiative is to contribute to his failed policy of “isolating” Islamabad. India also wants to deflect from the negative attention that it received worldwide after being exposed as the real rogue state in South Asia after it almost brought the region to the brink of nuclear war earlier this year following the suspicious Pulwama incident that it automatically blamed on Pakistan, desperately trying to continue pinning the blame on its neighbor for South Asia’s instability instead of taking responsibility for the being the reason behind this itself.

“Containing” China & Taking Revenge On Russia

Should this conference end up taking place, then it’s predictable that India will produce manufactured “evidence” in order to “prove” its point, exploiting the highly publicized opportunity to smear Pakistan’s reputation and provoke international concerns about investing in CPEC. This agenda has a much greater chance of succeeding if India convinces the US to impose unilateral sanctions against Pakistan on an “anti-terrorist” basis, understanding that the real purpose would be to indirectly sanction CPEC and consequently deal an asymmetrical blow to China in the so-called “trade war“. Furthermore, the negative attention that India hopes to heap upon Pakistan during that occasion could be weaponized to smear all of its targets’ partners by extention, including Russia, who New Delhi has been extremely angry with over the past few months after Moscow refused to take its side during the latest regional hostilities and instead opted to remain neutral as part of its balanced “Return to South Asia“. The news that President Putin might finally meet Prime Minister Khan during next week’s SCO Summit in Bishkek might have also motivated Modi to act as urgently as he did.

A Dose Of Modi’s Own Medicine

For as much as Indian strategists are expecting an optimistic outcome from Modi’s proposed global “terrorism” summit, there’s a very high likelihood that it’ll actually end up backfiring and causing many more problems than it’s worth. To begin with, Pakistan could use the international media coverage given to that event to draw attention to India’s use of state terrorism against the Kashmiri freedom movement that’s fighting for the right to their promised UN-mandated plebiscite to determine their political future. Not only that, but the “ModiMob” lynchings of dozens of Muslims over the past half-decade could be properly reframed as Hindu terrorist attacks if Pakistan plays its soft power cards right. In addition, the forthcoming event could also serve to remind the world of the testimony of convicted RAW Hybrid War operative Kulbhushan Jadhav after he admitted that he was tasked by his homeland to organize terrorist attacks in Pakistan, which could in turn lead to a wider discussion about India’s state sponsorship of the BLA and TTP terrorist groups .

Ranting About Iran & Talking Tough Against The Taliban

That’s not all, though, since the illusion of India’s “multi-alignment” would be ruined once and for all if its new American, “Israeli“, and Saudi allies exploit that platform to fearmonger about Iran, especially after New Delhi recently ditched it once Washington withdrew its sanctions waiver last month. Being responsible for sponsoring an anti-Iranian propaganda fest that raises the already high tensions in the Gulf would irreparably harm India’s reputation among the many countries of the emerging Multipolar World Order even if it endears it to the ones who are clinging to the fading unipolar one, showing without any doubt that New Delhi has made a decision to unapologetically pivot towards Washington. Nevertheless, India might also inadvertently harm its standing with the US if its representatives rant about the Taliban during that time, with whom Washington and Moscow are presently engaged in peacemaking diplomatic outreaches, but it might even stage a Bollywood-like drama to this effect to create some unconvincing ambiguity about its aforementioned pivot.

Concluding Thoughts

Modi thought that it would be a good idea to propose a global “terrorism” conference in order to put more international pressure on Pakistan, but upon further contemplation, it might be India itself that ends up coming under worldwide scrutiny if Islamabad takes advantage of this opportunity to raise awareness about New Delhi’s policy of state terrorism against the Kashmiris, the “ModiMob” Hindu terrorist lynchings of dozens of Muslims over the past half-decade, and Kulbhushan Jadhav’s confession that his homeland ordered him to organize terrorist attacks in Pakistan. Moreover, India’s reputation could be irreparably ruined in the eyes of the emerging Multipolar World Order if it sponsors an event that turns into an anti-Iranian propaganda fest for its US, “Israeli”, and Saudi allies to rant and rave against their rival, even if it stages a Bollywood-like drama by verbally attacking America’s peacemaking diplomatic ties with the Taliban to deflect from this fact. All told, more self-inflicted soft power harm than good might come out of India’s proposed global “terrorism” conference, though its strategists probably won’t realize this until after the fact.

June 9, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment

The Geo-Port-Politics of Gwadar and Chabahar

By Salman Rafi Sheikh – New Eastern Outlook – 08.06.2019

In a highly surprising move, Iran’s foreign minister, on an unscheduled and unannounced visit to Pakistan on Thursday (May the 23rd), announced the proposal to link Pakistan’s port of Gwadar with Iran’s Chabahar port. This announcement signals tectonic geo-political shift taking place in the region in the wake of increasing tensions between the US and Iran. The US has already successfully forced India, its chief South Asian ally, to scrap its purchase of oil from Iran, a country India was not long ago claimed to have entered into a strategic alliance with. Although the US has somehow left Chabahar out of its net of sanction, India’s decision to follow the US in its footsteps does signal its participation in the US policy of crippling Iranian economy and take Iran to the verge of massive political disruption and eventual regime change. Iran, obviously, is not unmindful of the implications of this particular decision of India.

Iran’s proposal to link Chabahar with Gawadar, despite the fact that the US sanctions don’t apply on the post, shows the deep sense of Indian betrayal prevailing in Tehran and a counter-manoeuvre to avoid isolation. Iran, obviously, does not expect India to be as robust and committed to building the rest of the port as it would have in a peaceful and sanction-less scenario. Iran, logically enough, is boosting its ties with its immediate neighbour, a country that already is deeply allied with China and aims to expand CPEC to Iran to increase regional connectivity. With Chabahar and Gwadar being linked, Iran will thus have two major regional states on its side i.e., Pakistan and China and will be far better placed in China’s extended regional connectivity programme than it is now. Zarif’s connectivity proposal itself tells everything. To quote him:

“We believe that Chabahar and Gwadar can complement each other. We can connect Chabahar and Gwadar, and then through that, connect Gwadar to our entire railroad system, from Iran to the North Corridor, through Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, and also through Azerbaijan, Russia, and Turkey.”

As far as the US—Iran tension is concerned, unlike India, Pakistan has already said that it will not take sides in the conflict. Pakistan’s neutrality in the on-going scenario suits Tehran far more than it does for the US, that is if it does at all.

There is also no gainsaying that Tehran’s proposal to connect the two ports couldn’t have come with prior consultation with the Chinese, who are practically running the port in Pakistan. Accordingly, before coming to Pakistan, Zarif was in China where he met his Chinese counterpart and certainly discussed this proposal, leading Chinese foreign minister to “Welcome Iran” to actively take part in the joint building of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) through Chabahar.

China also re-affirmed its support for Iran. “China firmly opposes unilateral sanctions and the so-called ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ imposed by the United States on Iran,” Wang said, pledging to maintain the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and safeguard the authority of the United Nations and basic norms governing international relations.

Chinese support’s major manifestation came a few days ago when Chinese oil tanker Pacific Bravo left the Persian Gulf with 2 million barrels of Iranian light crude, ignoring the US sanctions and practically challenging the US unilateralism.

Pacific Bravo is owned by Bank of Kunlun, a financial institution that is owned by the Chinese state oil company CNPC. Bank of Kunlun has long been the financial institution at the heart of China-Iran bilateral trade—a role for which the company was sanctioned during the Obama administration. Despite already being designated, Bank of Kunlun ceased its Iran-related activities in early May when the oil waivers were revoked. But Bravo’s current moves point to a change in Chinese policy. Importantly enough, Bravo sailed from the Persian Gulf on the same day that Zarif arrived in Beijing and met Chinese foreign minister to discuss Iranian participation in the BRI (through linking Gwadar and Chabahar).

With Iran now taking this fundamental shift, what is apparent is that a major foreign policy shift in Iran has taken place whereby its leadership has come to an understanding that their relations with the US are unlikely to take a positive turn for a long time and that a necessary adjustment in the foreign policy is absolutely needed. As a matter of fact, it was only a few days ago when Iran’s supreme leader criticised Iran’s foreign policy and dropped a major hint about why changing the course of foreign policy was an utmost necessity.

Of course, its major manifestation is reorienting Iran’s relations with Pakistan via participation in the BRI. Pakistan will be least concerned about any US reaction over linking Gwadar with Chabahar, for the US sanctions do not apply to the Iranian port. But the fact that the geo-political significance of the port will undergo a significant change after a successful linkage between the two ports and that China will become a major player, the US might feel ‘compelled’ to direct its sanctions toward the port eventually.

June 8, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Pakistan military voluntarily cuts budget, praised by PM Imran Khan

RT | June 5, 2019

In a somewhat unprecedented move, Pakistan’s military will voluntarily cut the defense budget for the coming fiscal year as the cash-strapped Pakistan government launches a wide-ranging austerity program.

The move comes as tensions remain high between Pakistan and its neighbor India, but the Pakistan Armed Forces chief spokesperson, Major General Asif Ghafoor, assured people that the cuts will not come at the expense of security and defense and that the military would maintain “an effective response potential to all threats.”

Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his gratitude that the military made such a gesture despite “multiple security challenges.” For his part, Khan has also made cuts, reportedly moving into a small three-bedroom house belonging to his military secretary since taking office last year.

Pakistan was the world’s 20th biggest military spender in 2018. It invested US$11.4 billion on its military, its highest level since 2004 and four percent of the country’s GDP.

“Not a small step at all, only a strong Civil-Mily Coordination can rescue Pakistan from the deep problems of Governance and economy… shows a complete trust on the leadership of PM by an important institution,” Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry said.

The funds will be re-allocated to develop newly-merged tribal areas and develop the region of Balochistan. All military and civilian institutions will be expected to contribute to the austerity budget which will be presented on June 11.

June 5, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | | Leave a comment

Iran resets its foreign policy calculus

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | May 25, 2019

The unannounced overnight visit by Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to Pakistan on Thursday can be seen at the very minimum as forming part of a diplomatic campaign in the backdrop of the war clouds building up in the Persian Gulf. This regional tour has already taken Zarif to Russia, China, Turkmenistan, India and Japan.

For Iran, Pakistan is an important neighbour and the two countries have a history of troubled relations. (See my recent blogs Pakistan-Iran ties set for makeoverPart I and Part II.) In the prevailing regional setting, Pakistan’s importance for the Iranian geo-strategies has become crucial.

In immediate terms, King Salman has sent out invitations to two summits he’ll be hosting in Mecca on May 30 — back-to-back summits of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Arab League — where the leitmotif is the rising tensions with Iran. Neither GCC nor Arab League carries credibility, but Saudi Arabia is hoping that the Muslim Middle East will stand up and be counted in the vanguard of the US-led ‘Iran project’.

Enter Pakistan. Pakistan already has stated it will not take sides in the looming confrontation. Pakistan has described the crisis in the Persian Gulf region as “disturbing” and said that Washington’s decision to deploy an aircraft carrier and bombers has fuelled tensions and exacerbated “the existing precarious security situation” in the Middle East.

Just before Zarif’s arrival in Islamabad, Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman said, “We expect all sides to show restraint, as any miscalculated move can transmute into a large-scale conflict. Pakistan always supports dialogue and desires that all issues should be settled peacefully and through engagement by all sides.”

Pakistan’s stance of ‘positive neutrality’ works in favour of Tehran. Importantly, it is in stark contrast with the deafening silence of New Delhi, which has caved in to US diktat and summarily terminated all imports of Iranian oil. Suffice to say, Pakistan has moved to neutral ground at a juncture while India is bonding with the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE — the ‘Quad’ group that pioneers the project to force a ‘regime change’ in Iran.

Delhi gave a pro forma reception to Zarif ten days ago when he came on an unannounced visit and Indian government sources went out of the way to prompt the media to see the event as entirely at Iran’s insistance. In comparison, Pakistan graciously received Zarif, who met the Pakistani Prime Minister and Foreign Minister as well as the army chief and the speaker of the national assembly.

Without doubt, the shift in India’s Middle East policies will have registered in the Iranian political establishment at the highest level. Simply put, Delhi has turned its back on Tehran and a  sense of betrayal is only natural in Tehran, which strained every nerve to befriend India. And the fact remains that unlike with Iran’s ties with Pakistan, there are no contradictions in Iran’s bilateral ties with India.

In view of the above, significantly, Zarif made a stopover in Chabahar Port en route to Islamabad on Thursday. No doubt, this development is heavy with symbolism, because Chabahar symbolises not only the unfulfilled Iranian expectations from partnership with India but stands out today as a relic of India’s betrayal. (See my blog India’s Betrayal of Iran Is Only the Beginning.) 

(Iran’s FM Zarif at Chabahar en route to Islamabad on May 23, 2019)

In his first remarks after arrival in Islamabad, Zarif disclosed that he intended to put forward a “proposal” for connecting Pakistan’s Gwadar port to its “complementary” port Chabahar (located just 72 kms away in southeastern Iran.) To quote Zarif,

“We believe that Chabahar and Gwadar can complement each other. We can connect Chabahar and Gwadar, and then through that, connect Gwadar to our entire railroad system, from Iran to the North Corridor, through Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, and also through Azerbaijan, Russia, and Turkey.”

Make no mistake that this is a wholesome proposal. An experienced career diplomat like Zarif is not in the business of kite-flying on such a sensitive issue that holds the potential to realign the geopolitics of the region.

Equally, it stands to reason that Tehran has consulted Beijing beforehand. Gwadar is synonymous with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and, of course, CPEC is the flagship of China’s Belt and Road (BRI) Initiative.

In fact, during what appeared to have been a highly successful visit to Beijing by Zarif a week ago, Iran-China cooperation within the framework of BRI figured prominently in his talks with Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The Xinhua report on the meeting underscored Wang’s remark that ‘China welcomes Iran to actively take part in the joint building of the Belt and Road and hopes to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation.’

Equally, it must be factored in that the week before Zarif met Wang, he had travelled to Moscow and had talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov where they discussed key issues in the international arena, as well as bilateral cooperation. The Russia-Iran consultations in Moscow stand out as a defining moment in regional security, as apparent from the remarks to the media, below, by the two foreign ministers:

(Joint press conference by Russian FM Sergey Lavrov (R) and Iran’s FM Javad Zarif at Moscow on May 8, 2019)

The big question is whether all this signifies a fundamental rethink in Iran’s foreign policy options in an emergent scenario where it must confront the geopolitical reality that a normalisation of relations with the US is to be ruled out for a very long time to come and some fundamental adjustments have become necessary.

Indeed, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently made an unprecedented open criticism of Iran’s foreign policy.

In sum, it is possible to estimate that the proposal that Zarif made to the Pakistani leadership signifies a reorientation of Iran’s foreign policy in the direction of greater integration with the two major Eurasian powers Russia and China.

In an ideal world, Iran would have preferred to pursue independent foreign policies, but life is real and a regional axis with Russia, China, Pakistan and Turkey becomes an imperative need today. Conceivably, this profound shift in Iran’s foreign policy calculus carries the imprimatur of Ayatollah Khamenei.

Read the IRNA report, here, on Zarif’s Pakistan visit.

May 25, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 2 Comments

Zarif’s Visits To India & Pakistan Couldn’t Have Been More Different

By Andrew Korybko | EurasiaFuture | 2019-05-24

Iran is becoming increasingly desperate after the US intensified the economic component of its Hybrid War on the country, and while Indian Prime Minister Modi snubbed the Islamic Republic’s top diplomat during his visit to the country earlier this month and humiliatingly sent him back to his homeland empty-handed, his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan warmly embraced Zarif and offered to mediate between Iran and the US.

Iran knows that it’s in trouble after the US rescinded its sanctions waiver for the country’s main oil partners in order to intensify the economic component of its Hybrid War on the Islamic Republic, with the intent being to deprive its rival of valuable budgetary revenue so as to compel it into undertaking painful austerity measures that could exacerbate the already-high risk of a Color Revolution. It was with this increasing strategic desperation in mind that the country dispatched its top diplomat to India earlier this month to plead for it to defy the US like it famously promised it would do last year and not submit to its unilateral sanctions regime.

Foreign Minister Zarif must have been sorely disappointed when he was unsurprisingly snubbed by Indian Prime Minister Modi who refused to meet with him so as to avoid sending any inadvertent signals to his American ally that India would even dare to consider going against Washington’s will, which is why Iran’s top diplomat was humiliatingly sent back to his homeland empty-handed after only having a brief chat with his Indian counterpart. To add insult to injury and ensure that Iran got the message that it was trying to convey, India shortly thereafter tested a surface-to-air missile that it jointly produced with “Israel“, putting to rest any hopes that New Delhi still endeavors to practice its over-hyped and now-outdated policy of “multi-alignment”.

Zarif’s dishonorable treatment by his Indian hosts was completely contrasted by the warm reception that he was just given by his Pakistani ones during his latest visit, where he met with Prime Minister Khan and was even told by his Foreign Ministry counterpart that Islamabad is willing to mediate between Iran and the US in pursuit of a peaceful solution to their latest tensions. This is very important because Pakistan already has decades’ worth of very solid ties with the US’ permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”), which have most recently been put to use to promote the revived peace process in Afghanistan.

Perhaps sensing that Pakistani mediation could eventually be just as much of a game-changer in Iranian-American relations as it has been for American-Taliban ones, the Indian Ambassador to the US announced on the same day as Zarif’s arrival in the global pivot state that his country officially terminated its import of Iranian oil in response to Washington’s sanctions demands. The timing of this statement was very symbolic because it highlights just how different both South Asian states’ stances towards Iran are. India is playing partisan political games by unashamedly supporting the US’ policies, while Pakistan is trying to “balance” (or rather, in Indian political parlance, “multi-align”) between all Great Powers.

India wants to prove its loyalty to the US and remind America that its compliance with the unilateral sanctions regime against Iran is greatly contributing to the worsening economic crisis in the Islamic Republic, whereas Pakistan is flaunting its strategic independence by showing the world that it feels confident enough with its increasingly important geopolitical position to proactively play a leading diplomatic role in reducing tensions between those two countries. Just as significantly, Pakistan proved that it will continue to respect its partners’ state representatives instead of humiliating them like India just did to Zarif.

The main takeaway from Zarif’s totally different experiences visiting those two South Asian states is that Iran should seriously consider recalibrating its regional partnerships. India is no longer a reliable partner after it disrespected Iran’s top diplomat in such a shameful manner and then strongly signaled the strength of its new alliances with the US and “Israel” right after humiliating him. Pakistan, meanwhile, has shown itself to be totally dependable and genuinely interested in proactively playing a constructive role in supporting a peaceful solution to the latest Iranian-American tensions. As such, it would be wise for Iran to prioritize is relations with Pakistan in order to replace India as its regional strategic partner.

May 24, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

US sanctions could force Pakistan to ditch ‘Peace pipeline’ project with Iran

RT | May 12, 2019

Pakistan has notified Iran that mounting US economic pressure makes it “impossible” to proceed with the massive Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline (IP) project, also known as the ‘Peace pipeline’.

“We cannot risk US sanctions by going ahead with the [IP] project as America has clearly said that anybody who will work with Iran will also be sanctioned,” Mobin Saulat, the managing director of Inter State Gas Systems, which works under the auspices of the Pakistani government, told Arab News.

Islamabad recently informed Tehran in writing about the hurdle to implementing the pipeline project, according to the official. He noted that if the restrictions against Iran are lifted, Pakistan will be eager to go ahead with it. The same position was earlier voiced by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The project, which has been under discussion since 1994, was initially meant to deliver natural gas from Iran’s giant South Pars field to Pakistan and India. New Delhi quit it in 2009, citing the costs and security concerns.

The US vocally opposed the $7 billion project long ago, even before the 2015 nuclear deal, from which Washington has already withdrawn. It said that the construction of the pipeline could violate sanctions imposed on Iran over alleged nuclear activities, despite Iran denying the claims and arguing that natural gas cannot be used for making atomic bombs.

Iran has already slammed Pakistan for failing to adhere to the bilateral deal and delays in laying down the pipeline. In February, the Islamic Republic threatened to take its project partner to the international court of arbitration over the lack of progress on construction. Islamabad has at least two months to respond to Iran on the matter, according to Inter State Gas Systems.

“We have time till August this year to legally respond to Iran’s legal notice and settle the issue through negotiations,” Saulat said.

The news comes just days after the Trump administration imposed new sanctions targeting anyone who fails to wind down transactions related to Iran’s metal sector. This is in addition to the tough restrictions on energy exports, which the US seeks to cut to zero.

On Sunday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for unity as the country faces “unprecedented” pressure from its “enemies.” He compared the current situation with the conditions during the 1980s war with Iraq, saying that it is not clear if they are “better or worse,” but back then Iran had no problems with its banks, oil sales, or imports and exports, except for arms purchases.

May 12, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment

On the Run-up to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Visit to Iran

By Natalya Zamarayeva – New Eastern Outlook – 03.05.2019

Many firsts, much tradition and a great deal left out on the official agenda for the Iran-Pakistan talks. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, who took office in August 2018, paid his first visit to Tehran on April 21-22, 2019 after receiving an invitation from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

            For the first time in history, the head of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan:

– voiced support for the ideals of Iran’s Islamic Revolution as the country marked its 40th anniversary, who assured Iran’s spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that Islamabad has set out on a path to revolution;

– publicly admitted that terrorists had used Pakistani soil in the past to carry out attacks against Iran, which has been met with sharp criticism from the Prime Minister’s opposition in Islamabad;

– avoided bringing up the failed negotiations on the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline.

            There were three challenges that the Prime Minister dealt with in a terrific manner, which took place in the background during his visit to Tehran:

– Washington’s steep step-up in anti-Iranian sanctions (Iran-US relations deteriorated in May 2018 following President Donald Trump’s announcement that the US was going to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, JCPOA; in April 2019, the US declared the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps a terrorist organization; Washington will start imposing economic sanctions against countries importing Iranian crude oil since May 2, 2019; the US has been putting pressure on the EU to politically isolate Iran). Despite threats of economic sanctions, in April 2019, both Islamabad and Tehran called on Washington to fully implement the Iran nuclear deal as soon as possible;

– Saudi hostility towards Iran;

– a brutal terrorist attack in the Pakistan-Iran border area which took place in April 2019.

PM Imran Khan’s visit to Iran can be described as a breakthrough in bilateral relations. The historical, cultural, religious and civilizational ties between the two neighboring Muslim countries are now being recognized with respect for the principles of national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Imran Khan had shown how he is putting Pakistan’s new approach of strengthening relations with all neighboring states into action, which was put forward by the government of the Pakistan Justice Party (PSP/PTI) headed by Khan. Iran and Pakistan have stressed that “no third country” will be able to prevent Iran-Pakistan relations from developing (an obvious reference to the United States and its policy which aims to isolate the Islamic Republic). And given the current situation, countries in this region need to cooperate independently and directly promote their own interests. For Pakistan’s former government, friendship with Iran did not go beyond the diplomatic level.

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who came to power in June 2013 with the victory of his party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), caved to pressure from the US and Saudi influence and tried to forget about the agreements signed in spring 2013 by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Iranian President Ahmadinejad for the construction of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline.Iran-Pakistan relations were frozen while Sharif was in power. Only in November 2017, with the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s visit to Iran, their original defense partnership began to be restored to earlier levels, and bilateral relations intensified on a diplomatic and economic level at a later stage.

In July 2018, immediately after the results of the parliamentary elections were announced, Iran expressed a willingness to promote and expand its cooperation with Pakistan’s new government across all areas. Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs was one of the first high-ranking foreign diplomats to pay an official visit to Islamabad in autumn 2018, when he met with Imran Khan. It was during this visit, in response to the Naya Pakistan (New Pakistan) program of reforms announced by the Pakistan’s new government, when Iran’s Foreign Minister told Khan what had been achieved tanks to the 1979 Islamic Revolution, particularly in terms of health, with the greatest improvements seen in primary health care provision. The Iranian experience appealed to Pakistan, and the two states signed the Declaration for Cooperation in Healthcare Sector in 2019.

The current composition of bilateral relations is far more diverse and complicated, and involves security, trade, religious pilgrims, the status of Pakistani prisoners in Iran, the ports of Gwadar and Chabahar, cultural ties, humanitarian cooperation and joint participation in the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative.

Time and time again, terrorist attacks have challenged bilateral relations between these countries. In recent years, terrorist groups have intensified their activities on both Iranian and Pakistani soil. Therefore, Islamabad and Tehran have re-acknowledged the importance of regular cooperation between politicians, the military and security personnel to combat threats such as drug trafficking, kidnapping and human trafficking, hostage-taking, money laundering, bombings and arson. Following the talks, the countries signed a deal to cooperate in the fight against terrorism for the first time; agreed to form a Joint Rapid Reaction Force; and agreed to open new border crossings (in Gabd-ReemdanandMand-Pishin), as well as border markets. The countries plan to continue to build a fence along the border and synchronize the work of border patrol services.

The leaders of both countries expressed regret that Iran, with a population of 80 million people, and Pakistan, with a population of 210 million people, have not taken advantage of their trade potential for various different reasons, and the range of goods has remained limited over the past years. Nawaz Sharif’s government took up Washington’s anti-Iranian sanctions policy, and the volume of trade declined as a result. Since 2017 however, the countries have been gradually expanding the range of goods they produce and the volume of exports and imports using the means they have available. For example, they agreed to establish a barter committee for the exchange of goods with the aim of stepping up monetary, financial and commercial activities. Iran, for its part, is prepared to deliver a tenfold increase in the volume of electricity it exports to Pakistan.

Long-term plans include the construction of a railway line connecting the ports of Pakistani Gwadar and Iranian Chabahar, as well as completing the construction of the gas pipeline to Pakistan.

The process of brokering an internal Afghan political settlement remains a matter of concern for other countries in the region. Iran and Pakistan believe that the formula which would give this solution is in intra-Afghan and Afghan-led dialog.

Peace and harmony in the region remain a priority and provide the foundation for developing transport transit corridors, which are the engine for accelerating bilateral and regional partnerships and trade. Iran and Pakistan support the implementation of bilateral and multilateral agreements, including the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative –BRI; China-Pakistan Economic Corridor – CPEC; and agreements on establishing the North–South and East–West corridors in Iran.

During the visit, Iran acknowledged that a solution may only be found to the conflict in the Jammu region and Kashmir through dialog, which should take the will of the regional population into account and should adhere to the UN Security Council resolutions. The Pakistani Leader, in turn, spoke of injustice against the Palestinians. Both Iran and Pakistan view Israel’s illegal occupation of Golan Heights and the transfer of the Israeli capital from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as a violation of international law, which will only lead to greater instability in the Middle East.

Natalia Zamarayeva, Ph.D (History) Senior Research Fellow, Pakistan section, Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

May 3, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Big Lie Day

By Leonid SAVIN – ORIENTAL REVIEW – 03/05/2019

2 May has gone down in modern history as the day that terrorist number one, Osama bin Laden, was killed. The official version states that, in 2011, he was shot dead by US special forces in the house where he was living with his wives and children. The house itself was in a city in Pakistan, where he had been hiding undetected ever since the senior members of al-Qaeda (a terrorist organisation banned in Russia) had fled Afghanistan following the defeat of the government of Mullah Omar, who had been sheltering them. Under cover of night, US helicopters carrying two groups of special forces flew to the operation location from Afghanistan, which was a violation of Pakistan’s state sovereignty.

Recalling the incident in his book Pakistan: A Personal History, which was published in the same year as Osama bin Laden’s official assassination, the current prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, noted: “It was bad enough that the world’s most wanted man was not found in some cave but in a city only 50 kilometres from Islamabad, and a mile from Pakistan’s Military Academy. What made it worse was that the news was broken to us Pakistanis, and the rest of the world, by President Obama”.

“It was several hours later when a statement came from our government congratulating the US and taking credit for providing the US with all the information about Osama’s location. This begged the obvious question for all Pakistanis: if we knew about his whereabouts, then why did we not capture him ourselves? The media in India and the rest of the world went wild, blaming Pakistan’s ISI (in other words, the army) for having kept Osama in a safe house for the past six years. […]

“Three days later, the army chief denied all knowledge of the operation and announced that any such violation of our sovereignty would not be violated again. A week later the PM only added to the confusion when he finally gave a statement, suggesting ‘a matching response’ to any attack against ‘Pakistan’s strategic assets’. For Pakistanis, especially those living abroad, this was one of the most humiliating and painful times. The CIA chief Panetta further rubbed salt in our wounds by bluntly saying that the Pakistan government was either incompetent or complicit.”

The US propaganda machine, meanwhile, was continuing its work around the world and few now dispute the widely held view, or rather myth, that bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad. Films have been made, and books published, that back up America’s official version with an additional narrative. The Russian-language Wikipedia page on Operation Neptune Spear goes into great detail. What’s more, all of the links are to US resources or reprints of them.

The fact that everyone who took part in the raid on bin Laden’s house is now dead seems a little strange, however. Just as suspicious is the fact that Dr Shakil Afridi – who, according to official legend, obtained evidence of bin Laden’s whereabouts by running a fake vaccination programme – was arrested almost as soon as the operation was over and sentenced to 33 years for treason. Something else that gives pause for thought is the official story that bin Laden’s body was buried at sea on the same day. There had apparently been enough time for examination and identification at the US military base in Afghanistan and the Americans had got everything they needed to know.

The author of this article recently got the opportunity to go to Abbottabad and used the visit to see where bin Laden was killed and glean any details that were not published in the world’s press.

The city of Abbottabad is located in a valley surrounded by mountains and the Karakoram Highway passes close by. As well as the Military Academy in Abbottabad itself, there are a number of military bases and installations located around the city. The fence of an ordnance factory that produces a variety of weapons stretches for many kilometres along both sides of the Karakoram Highway. In other words, it is a place with a pretty high level of security requirements. In 2011, when the operation was carried out, the security measures in and around the city were probably just as strict and serious.

Almost immediately before entering the territory of the Academy, there is a single right turn that leads to the suburb of Bilal Town. We stopped alongside a small group of men outside a shop and asked for directions to bin Laden’s house. After a few seconds’ pause, one of them told us how to get there and where to turn. We stopped again outside another shop further along to clarify exactly where we were going and arrived a few minutes later.

The first person we met was an elderly gentlemen and we asked him about the house, to which he replied: “Yes, that’s the house where the Americans carried out their operation and killed people, only bin Laden wasn’t there. It’s a lie.”

The man hurried on his way and we didn’t question him further. All that remains of the house are the foundations (the building was demolished some time after the operation – another strange fact), and the territory is surrounded by a fairly low concrete wall with a few openings. We saw two men within the walls of the compound itself and decided to talk to them. One of them willingly told us what he knew.

He lives close by and, on the night in question, he and his family heard the sound of helicopters. The sound was so loud that his father climbed up onto the roof, afraid that a helicopter might fall onto their house. A flash then lit up the sky, and explosions and gunfire rang out.

The house itself, where the operation took place, was located away from other structures. There are a few other buildings in the neighbourhood today but, in 2011, only a single-storey building stood opposite. Nevertheless, all the neighbours went up onto their roofs or outside to see what was going on.

They all knew who was living in the house. According to one of the men we spoke to, it was the family of a businessman from Peshawar. All the neighbours respected him because he regularly helped the local community. The fence around his house was quite high and it’s possible that this was the deciding factor for those who had planned the operation.

“What happened next was like an Indian action movie from the 1990s,” recalls an eyewitness. One of the helicopters fell and burst into flames.

The police arrived about an hour after the first explosions and cordoned off the area, preventing anyone from getting in.

“It’s strange, because when there’s a wedding or a celebration, people often fire into the air and the police arrive in minutes, but this time it took them almost an hour,” said a neighbour.

Another helicopter arrived some time later, picked up the US special forces and flew away. While telling us about it, a young man stated several times that it was like a well-played drama, especially when you take into account what happened next.

“The elderly gentleman you met on the road back there was arrested by the Pakistani intelligence agency and then released,” added the neighbour.

He also believes that bin Laden wasn’t there, and it was innocent people who suffered. Since the land was purchased from the state for residential development, it is legally private property. The deceased owner probably has family somewhere, but nobody has claimed it as yet. And it could be that the target was chosen intentionally so that there would be as few leads and witnesses as possible.

An interesting fate befell the wreckage of the US helicopter that crashed. The Pakistani military handed it over to China and, following relevant research, the country developed its own version of the US helicopter. So Operation Neptune Spear resulted in a leak of military technology. Such things aren’t talked about in America, however.

It should be added that, during America’s war on terror following 9/11, 36,000 people have been killed in Pakistan, including 6,000 soldiers; the country has lost approximately $68 billion; and nearly half a million people have been displaced. While it costs $1 million per year to keep an American soldier in Pakistan, the cost of one Pakistani soldier is $900 per year. And, until very recently, US combat drones repeatedly violated the airspace over Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan – often attacking civilians in the tribal area rather than militants.

However, media outlets under the control of the US State Department continue to report on the US Army’s successes in its war on terror. One needs only to recall Donald Trump’s recent statements regarding America’s victory over ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Fabricating lies and demonising America’s geopolitical opponents, as well as anyone who disagrees with the country’s global agenda, is all in a day’s work for the media lackeys of the US establishment.

May 3, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 1 Comment

Why the US & Saudi Arabia fear Iran-Pakistan cooperation

By Darius Shahtahmasebi | RT | April 23, 2019

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Tehran has been marred by two recent deadly attacks. Despite an apparent willingness to cooperate, there remain many outside players who will push for this alliance to fail.

Someone clearly hates the idea of peaceful dialogue between Iran and Pakistan. Whether a coincidence or not, the timing of an attack in Pakistan within barely a day or two of a planned visit to Iran’s capital by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is certainly perfect timing for those who view an increasing relationship between the two nations through negative terms. The attack in question saw at least 14 Pakistani security forces personnel killed in a bus ambush. Not helping the issue, is the fact that Pakistan’s foreign office instantly blamed the attack on Iran, accusing Iran of inaction against ethnic Baloch separatist groups, even as Khan was set to visit Tehran.

In February, there was similarly an attack in eastern Iran that killed at least 27 Iranian security personnel. Tehran warned Islamabad it would “pay a heavy price” for allegedly harboring the militants who planned the suicide bombing, which was claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish al-Adl group.

Now, I am not saying that there is any conspiracy behind the attacks. I mean, why would I need to bother? Whether there are attacks or not, the media and a handful of notable leaderships will continue to portray Iran-Pakistan relations as the worst possible form of détente imaginable.

All this being said, the two countries were able to have a somewhat fruitful and productive engagement during Khan’s visit. The news that is likely to infuriate some other major players on the world stage is the announcement of a creation of a joint rapid reaction force along the shared border of Iran and Pakistan.

Ironically, the recent attacks against Iranian and Pakistani personnel may have brought these two nations closer together, as Khan announced that Pakistan will not allow any militant groups to operate from Pakistani soil, vowing to dismantle any militant group inside the country.

On a side note, WikiLeaks documents have shown that Saudi Arabia financed militant groups inside Pakistan. Even Deutsche Welle notes that most of the Pakistani based militant groups “unleashing terror” on Pakistan’s minority Shiite population “take inspiration from the hardline Saudi-Wahhabi Islamic ideology”.

Khan’s visit also magically coincided with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement that it was clamping down hard on countries who sought to buy Iranian oil, namely, India, Japan, South Korea, Turkey and of course, China, who account for about half of Iranian oil exports. This would undoubtedly send a clear picture to Pakistan about what will happen if it continues down its current trajectory.

Undeterred, Pakistan and Iran have agreed to establish a so-called barter committee to help in a planned increase in trade, with an eye for bypassing US-enforced sanctions.

Despite the picture the media wants to paint of a hostile Pakistan weary of an aggressive, terrorist-supporting Iran, the truth is that Iran and Pakistan are not really traditionally that adversarial.

Historically speaking, the two countries have had relatively friendly relations. Iran was one of the first countries to recognise and reach out to Pakistan after its creation in 1947. In fact, then-Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was the first head of a foreign nation to visit the newly created country. Iran also provided moral and material support to Pakistan during its infamous conflicts with India in 1965 and 1971.

The countries only really split along a Sunni-Shia divide after the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979. Aside from strengthening its relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran’s major rival, Pakistan also became a major US ally, particularly during the Afghan-Soviet war in the 1980s. Iran then viewed Pakistan as nothing but a lackey state of the United States.

Even though, Khan has made it clear that Pakistan holds no ill will to Iran following the revolution, purportedly stating that “I came here [to Iran] in 1972. I saw a big difference between the rich and the poor, a big cultural difference. Iran has become a more egalitarian society that is what the revolution has done.”

Despite the fact these two countries have many long standing differences and areas of competition, they still have many avenues of cooperation that they have felt the need to pursue.

One such avenue is the question of Afghanistan. For example, India has increased its interest in the war-ravaged nation, which puts Pakistan in a very compromising position indeed given it is essentially on the verge of a major war with its Indian neighbour.

According to Khan, both Pakistan and Iran have been affected by the conflict in Afghanistan, hosting millions of refugees between the two nations.

Iran and Pakistan have also been in the line of fire of Donald Trump’s hawkish administration. While Trump’s desire to annihilate Tehran is much more apparent than any such desire to go to war with Pakistan, we cannot ignore the major blows to US-Pakistan relations that have occurred under the watch of Trump.

The two nations further share close relations with China, the formulation of which has been termed as a trilateral nexus by the Asia Times. Pakistan and Iran also have a pipeline of their own capability of pursuing, which will most likely entail the deepening of cooperation even in spite of their major differences.

Another interesting aspect that comes into play in this dynamic – which I guarantee you, you will never see highlighted in a corporate media outlet – is that Iranian President Rouhani actually enjoys the support of the local ethnic Sunni population of Iran. Therefore, it is not beyond the administration of Rouhani to work more closely with its predominantly Sunni neighbours (if you don’t believe me, I wrote an extensive article highlighting the notable attempts by Iran to reach out to Sunni Saudi Arabia over the last few years).

The major problem that Pakistan faces is that while it can find common ground with Iran, including on matters in relation to economic ties and security, it does not want to irk Saudi Arabia too much, a nation which just pledged $20 billion in investments to Pakistan. Islamabad is likewise not impressed by Iran’s growing relationship with India. This is why Pakistan put itself in a questionable position whereby its former Chief of Army staff was appointed to what is essentially the head of a Saudi-led Arab NATO, which does not include Iran (indeed, it seems as though its existence is based on the idea that it needs to counter Iran).

At the end of the day, the optimist in me reckons that there are enough areas of cooperation between the two countries which can help to balance out the devastating rivalries between Iran and Saudi Arabia and prevent a deadly war. But in all honesty, if you were to compare the outcomes between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (MBS) visit to Pakistan and Khan’s visit to Tehran, the latter seems a bit weak in substance. It seems as though no matter how far Iran reaches its hand out to Pakistan, its loyalty to Saudi Arabia will continue to prevail ($20 billion will always be worth more than anything Iran can ever offer to its neighbour). Not to mention the money that Pakistan is offered from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which also views Tehran mostly in hostile terms.

Perhaps Khan can act as a mediator between Iran and Saudi Arabia, but the available evidence suggests there is nothing to mediate. Since 2015, Saudi Arabia has destroyed an entire country on its border simply on the suspicion that Iran could be backing the rebel movement inside Yemen. Even the possibility that a rebel-controlled government installed on its border could align itself with Tehran is a major deal-breaker for the Saudi Kingdom, worth starving over 85,000 children to death and threatening behind closed doors that Yemen should “shiver” for generations when they hear Saudi Arabia uttered.

The optimist in me is going to have to be a bit more realistic.

Read more:

Iranian President Rouhani declares joint border ‘reaction force’ with Pakistan

What you won’t hear from US govt: Iran is open to working with Saudi Arabia

April 23, 2019 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , , , , | Leave a comment

India sponsoring terror activities in Balochistan: Pakistan FM

The Frontier Post | April 23, 2019

ISLAMABAD – Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that India is trying to destabilize Pakistan and sponsoring the terror activities in Balochistan.

FM Qureshi said this on Tuesday while talking to a private news channel; Qureshi said that India is behind the terror activities in Balochistan province.

Regarding the Ormara terror incident, he said that Pakistan has already shared the details of the incident with Iranian authorities, adding that Afghanistan and Iranian territories are being used for carrying out terror acts in Pakistan.

He said Pakistan is helping Iran in recovering their kidnapped border guard personnel.

Qureshi repeated Pakistan’s resolve to have a stable and peaceful border with its neighboring countries, including Iran, to check cross border terrorism.

Earlier on Monday, Prime Minister Imran Khan reiterated his resolve not to allow any militant group to use Pakistani soil against anyone.

Addressing a joint press conference along with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the prime minister had said, Islamabad is taking decisive action against the militant groups.

The premier had said we will not allow Iran to be harmed from Pakistani soil and hopes to ensure the same from Iran.

It may be noted that Pakistan and Iran have also agreed to set up a Joint Rapid Reaction Force to guard the common borders.

April 23, 2019 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Pakistan And Iran Enter New Era of Anti-Terror Cooperation

By Adam Garrie | EurasiaFuture | 2019-04-22

Just as the PKK and its sister organisation PJAK are a mutual threat to both Turkey and Iran’s western frontier, so too are terror groups active on the Iran-Pakistan border a mutual threat to both countries that are best neutralised through joint efforts. This was proved beyond a shadow of a doubt when in February of this year a suicide bomber from Pakistan’s Balochistan frontier with Iran took the lives of 27 Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) soldiers and likewise the message was made doubly clear when last week, terrorists based in the neighbouring Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchestan crossed into Pakistan disguised as soldiers and martyred 14 innocent people at point blank range after boarding a bus on the Makran Coastal Highway.

As the Makran Coastal Highway attack came days before Pakistani Prime Minister’s first visit to Iran, it may well have been a calculated provocation designed to inflame Pakistan’s relations with Iran during a season when both countries had already experienced a degradation in relations due to Iran’s hyperbolic reaction to the 13 February attack. Mohammad Ali Jafari, at the time the commander-in-chief of the IRGC made inflammatory remarks about seeking “revenge” on Pakistan for an atrocity committed by a non-state terror group proscribed as an enemy of Pakistan. Jafari’s unambiguous comments which blamed Pakistani state institutions for the attack on the IRGC cast a new narrative over the region which lead one to logically conclude that India’s investments in the Iranian port at Chabahar combined with a misunderstanding of Pakistan’s partnership with Saudi Arabia, led Iranian officials into saying things that should not have been said about a potentially strategically important neighbour.

By contrast, after the Makran Coastal Highway attack, Pakistan launched a formal diplomatic complaint to Iran and the Foreign Minister stated that the issue would be a top priority during Imran Khan’s meeting with the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

News has now broken that a breakthrough has in fact been reached as Pakistan and Iran have agreed to form a joint border patrol “reaction force” that will see Pakistani and Iranian soldiers police an erstwhile porous border that has led to deeply unfortunate attacks on both countries from terrorists who have no regard for either Pakistani nor Iranian national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Even before the announcement of the joint reaction force, there were indications that Iran’s top leadership had realised the errors that were made in February in respect of blaming Pakistan for an attack that should have been a clear indicator of the fact the further cooperation was urgently needed. Yesterday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei relieved Mohammad Ali Jafari of his duties as the IRGC commander-in-chief and replaced him with Brigadier General Hossein Salami. It is likely that the change of the guard in this respect was motivated by internal factors but the timing of the announcement has the optics of a good will gesture to Pakistan as Jafari was among the most unhinged when it came to slandering Pakistani state institutions in February. As geopolitical expert Andrew Korybko wrote last week, “the ball is in Iran’s court” and it seems that this time Tehran did in fact make the proper decision to favour win-win cooperation over totally unnecessary lose-lose antagonism and suspicion.

Overall, Iran and Pakistan have the potential to be important strategic partners in areas beyond the all-important matter of cross-border security and counter-terrorism cooperation. In the long term, Iran could form an important part of a wider CPEC+. Such a Belt and Road based trading structure could potentially see goods originating from China before travelling across CPEC to Gwadar, then being shipped to Iran where they could then either travel to north-west Eurasia via the Caucasus or otherwise into the Mediterranean via Iran’s Turkish neighbour, thus bypassing the Suez region in which Israel and other enemies of Iran hold a great deal of influence.

In terms of energy cooperation, the long anticipated pipeline from Iran into south Asia is a project that has been stalled but nevertheless holds great potential for new win-win energy exchange in the region.

Finally, as geopolitical expert Agha Hussain recently pointed out, if Iran is to bolster its pan-Islamic credentials at a time when the country is facing unique challenges from the west, Israel and parts of the Arab world, it would behove Tehran to embrace the cause of Kashmiri justice just as the country has since its inception as an Islamic Republic, embraced the cause of Palestinian justice. Not only would this help demonstrate that Iran’s Islamic Revolution is more than just a single issue geopolitical development but it would help to eliminate many of the false stereotypes that some Pakistanis have about Iran and that some Iranians have about Pakistan.

The task now for both countries is to make sure that the reaction force is well-equipped and that cooperation along the border can help to create a new era of win-win relations for both neighbours.

April 22, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Pakistan Should Not Blindly Surrender to Modi Over Sikh Demonstrations

By Adam Garrie – EurasiaFuture – 2019-04-14

Sikh civil society groups have condemned Pakistan’s decision to ban activities of Sikhs peacefully campaigning for “Referendum 2020”  in which Sikhs plan to defy New Delhi and exercise their democratic right to vote on the issue of self-determination. Next year, Sikhs intend vote “yes or no” on the question of whether Khalistan should be formed as an independent state that would separate from the Indian state of Punjab. Similar votes have happened throughout the world with a wide array of results.

In 2014, Scotland narrowly voted to remain part of the United Kingdom in such a vote whilst in 2017, in a vote that was not recognised by Spain, Catalonia voted to become an independent republic.

In Indonesia’s Western New Guinea (often referred to as West Papua internationally), there have long been calls for a new referendum after the initial vote in 1969 in which the region voted to integrate with Indonesia has been described as un-free and unfair to ordinary people in the region. Even more recently, the French overseas territory of New Caledonia voted to remain politically united with France. Perhaps the most politicised referendum in recent years was when Crimea voted to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia. The result of this vote has been recognised by Russia, the DPRK and Syria but few other nations.

Of course, the world’s most controversial self-determination referendum is one that the UN first called for in 1948. This is the yet unrealised vote for self-determination in Kashmir.

In 2020, Sikhs in Indian Punjab are planning to hold a referendum on whether they want to form an independent nation known as Khalistan or whether they want to remain within India. India’s reaction thus far has been to browbeat, bully and threaten those who allow pro-Khalistan activities on their soil. Canada, Britain and some mainland European countries have refused to ban the Khalistan movement but India seems to have forced Pakistan’s hand in the matter.

While Pakistan has generally warm relations with the global and domestic Sikh community, it appears that Pakistan effectively succumbed to bullying from its militant BJP ruled neighbour. Of course, it is Pakistan’s domestic right to ban whatever political or activist groups it desires, including peaceful ones like the Khalistan movement. In this sense, the biggest problem is that Pakistan moved against a very small group of Sikhs who planned on hoisting banners and handing out literature at a time when India’s RAW continues to work with the Kabul regime to promote terrorism in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. Likewise, Indian occupation forces continue to inflict supreme violence against the civilians of Kashmir.

In this sense, Pakistan has leverage that it refused to exercise against India. If New Delhi is so desperate for Islamabad to prohibit insignificantly small groups of Sikhs from handing out non-violent political literature outside their places of worship, Islamabad could have said ‘we will only prohibit Khalistan activism if India gives Pakistan all of the details of the last 50 years worth of Indian meddling in Balochistan, ceases its promotion of terrorism in Balochistan via Kabul, begins a ceasefire in occupied Kashmir and renounces all forms of military violence as a means of conflict resolution with Pakistan’.

In other words, it takes two to tango. If India wants Pakistan to ban peaceful symbols of a Khalistan referendum on its soil, India had better cease fomenting violent separatism in south-western Pakistan. But in typically anti-strategic fashion, Pakistan simply capitulated to India’s bullying and got less than nothing for it. The concept of getting less than nothing for it can be proved by the fact that major pro-government Indian media outlets continue to claim (without evidence) that Pakistan is officially promoting the Khalistan movement in Indian Punjab when in fact the Khalistan movement’s presence outside of India is almost all in either Canada or the UK with other activists present in the United States and parts of continental Europe.

Forgetting any moral arguments, from a purely strategic view, Pakistan made a blunder. Islamabad could have asked India for something in return for actively prohibiting low level Khalistan activists and instead, Pakistan asked for nothing.

April 14, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment