Should have guessed: israel (apartheid state) is playing a big role in India’s escalating conflict with Pakistan

Israel has been lining itself up alongside India in an unspoken — and politically dangerous — “anti-Islamist” coalition. — AFP/File

Israel is playing a big role in India’s escalating conflict with Pakistan
By Robert Fisk

When I heard the first news report, I assumed it was an Israeli air raid on Gaza. Or Syria. Airstrikes on a “terrorist camp” were the first words. A “command and control centre” destroyed, many “terrorists” killed. The military was retaliating for a “terrorist attack” on its troops, we were told.

An Islamist “jihadi” base had been eliminated. Then I heard the name Balakot and realised that it was neither in Gaza, nor in Syria – not even in Lebanon – but in Pakistan. Strange thing, that. How could anyone mix up Israel and India?

Well, don’t let the idea fade away. Two thousand five hundred miles separate the Israeli ministry of defence in Tel Aviv from the Indian ministry of defence in New Delhi, but there’s a reason why the usual cliche-stricken agency dispatches sound so similar.

For months, Israel has been assiduously lining itself up alongside India’s nationalist BJP government in an unspoken – and politically dangerous – “anti-Islamist” coalition, an unofficial, unacknowledged alliance, while India itself has now become the largest weapons market for the Israeli arms trade.

Not by chance, therefore, has the Indian press just trumpeted the fact that Israeli-made Rafael Spice-2000 “smart bombs” were used by the Indian air force in its strike against Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) “terrorists” inside Pakistan.

Like many Israeli boasts of hitting similar targets, the Indian adventure into Pakistan might owe more to the imagination than military success. The “300-400 terrorists” supposedly eliminated by the Israeli-manufactured and Israeli-supplied GPS-guided bombs may turn out to be little more than rocks and trees.

But there was nothing unreal about the savage ambush of Indian troops in Kashmir on 14 February which the JeM claimed, and which left 40 Indian soldiers dead. Nor the shooting down of at least one Indian jet this week.

India was Israel’s largest arms client in 2017, paying £530m for Israeli air defence, radar systems and ammunition, including air-to-ground missiles – most of them tested during Israel’s military offensives against Palestinians and targets in Syria.

Israel itself is trying to explain away its continued sales of tanks, weapons and boats to the Myanmar military dictatorship – while western nations impose sanctions on the government which has attempted to destroy its minority and largely Muslim Rohingya people. But Israel’s arms trade with India is legal, above-board and much advertised by both sides.

The Israelis have filmed joint exercises between their own “special commando” units and those sent by India to be trained in the Negev desert, again with all the expertise supposedly learned by Israel in Gaza and other civilian-thronged battlefronts.

At least 16 Indian “Garud” commandos – part of a 45-strong Indian military delegation – were for a time based at the Nevatim and Palmachim air bases in Israel. In his first visit to India last year – preceded by a trip to Israel by nationalist Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu recalled the 2008 Islamist attacks on Mumbai in which almost 170 civilians were killed. “Indians and Israelis know too well the pain of terrorist attacks,” he told Modi. “We remember the horrific savagery of Mumbai. We grit our teeth, we fight back, we never give in.” This was also BJP-speak.

Several Indian commentators, however, have warned that right-wing Zionism and right-wing nationalism under Modi should not become the foundation stone of the relationship between the two countries, both of which – in rather different ways – fought the British empire.

Brussels researcher Shairee Malhotra, whose work has appeared in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, has pointed out that India has the world’s third largest Muslim population after Indonesia and Pakistan – upward of 180 million people. “The India-Israel relationship is also commonly being framed in terms of a natural convergence of ideas between their ruling BJP and Likud parties,” she wrote last year.

Hindu nationalists had constructed “a narrative of Hindus as historically victims at the hands of Muslims”, an attractive idea to those Hindus who recall partition and the continuing turbulent relationship with Pakistan.

In fact, as Malhotra pointed out in Haaretz, “Israel’s biggest fans in India appear to be the ‘internet Hindus’ who primarily love Israel for how it deals with Palestine and fights Muslims.”

Malhotra has condemned Carleton University professor Vivek Dehejia for demanding a “tripartite” alliance between India, Israel and the US – since they have all suffered “from the scourge of Islamic terrorism”.

In fact, by the end of 2016, only 23 men from India had left to fight for Isis in the Arab world, although Belgium, with a population of only half a million Muslims, produced nearly 500 fighters.

Malhotra’s argument is that the Indian-Israeli relationship should be pragmatic rather than ideological.

But it is difficult to see how Zionist nationalism will not leach into Hindu nationalism when Israel is supplying so many weapons to India – the latest of which India, which has enjoyed diplomatic relations with Israel since 1992, has already used against Islamists inside Pakistan.

Signing up to the “war on terror” – especially “Islamist terror” – may seem natural for two states built on colonial partition whose security is threatened by Muslim neighbours.

In both cases, their struggle is over the right to own or occupy territory. Israel, India and Pakistan all possess nuclear weapons. Another good reason not to let Palestine and Kashmir get tangled up together. And to leave India’s 180 million Muslims alone.

This article was originally published by The Independent ” –

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Pakistan in the Crosshairs of New US Aggression

Pakistan in the Crosshairs of New US Aggression

Pakistan in the Crosshairs of New US Aggression

With events escalating quickly in Kashmir it’s incumbent to ask the most pertinent questions in geopolitics.

Why there?

And, Why Now?

Why Kashmir?

India and Pakistan are both making serious moves to slip out from underneath the US’s external control. India has openly defied the US on buying S-400 missile defense systems, keeping up its oil trade with Iran and developing the important Iranian port at Chabahar to help complete an almost private spur of the North South Transport Corridor.

Pakistan, under new Prime Minister Imran Khan is trying to square accounts with China over its massive investment for its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) known as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It has also been at the forefront of multiple rounds of talks spurred by the Russians and Iranians to forge some kind of peace in Afghanistan.

And the Trump administration cut off US aid to Pakistan for not being sufficiently helpful in the fight against terrorism. This opened up a war of words between Trump and Khan who reminded Trump that the little bit of money the US sent Pakistan nothing compared to the losses both economic and personal.

If there was ever the possibility of peace breaking out between India and Pakistan it would be in the context of stitching the two countries together through China’s regional plans as well as solving the thorny problem of continued US and NATO occupation of Afghanistan.

Anything that can be done to flare up tensions between these two adversaries then serves the US’s goals of sowing chaos and division to keep the things from progressing smoothly. Khan was elected to, in effect, drain the Pakistani Swamp. His, like Trump’s, is a tall order.

And at this point it looks like he’s still willing to give it a go as opposed to Trump who is simply revealing himself to be a thin-skinned version of Barack Obama, albeit with a distinctly orange hue.

But, still why right now?

Because Trump is distracted with his latest love affair with himself – taking credit for a Korean peace process that will proceed with or without him at this point. All he can do is slow it down, which is exactly what his Secretary of State has been doing since last year’s meeting in Singapore.

And that leaves people like John Bolton and the rest of the worst people in D.C. to go to work undermining an entire region of the world.

Last weekend’s terrorist attack was a planned provocation to produce the very outcome we have today. Jaish-e-Mohammed have too many direct and indirect links to Bush the Lesser era programs and Saudi Arabia to be ignored.

This attack happens just days after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman comes rushing in to save Pakistan’s dwindling foreign exchange reserves with promises of $10 billion to build a refinery of Saudi oil at the (now Chinese) port of Gwadar.

There are no coincidences in geopolitics. Timing is everything.

It reminds me of the flare up in Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2016. Then Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Azeri leader Ilham Aliyev on a Wednesday and by Sunday a nearly twenty-year peace was broken.

National Security Advisor John Bolton is desperate to keep Trump from pulling half of the troops out of Afghanistan. After a disastrous “Let Make War on Iran” conference in Warsaw two weeks ago, Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were reeling from having obtained no support outside of those already committed to such a plan.

Europe roundly said no, other than willing satrap Poland, still hoping Daddy Trump will save them from the mean old Nordstream 2 pipeline.

As Alistair Crooke pointed out recently, Bolton is putting pressure on Pakistan to forge a peace agreement with the Taliban which somehow allows for the US to maintain all of its troop presence there.

Washington is now embracing Pakistan (with Saudi Arabia and UAE writing the cheques). And Washington looks to Pakistan rather, not so much to contain and disrupt the Taliban, but to co-opt it through a ‘peace accord’ into accepting to be another US military ‘hub’ to match America’s revamped military ‘hub’ in Erbil (the Kurdish part of Iraq, which borders the Kurdish provinces of Iran). As a former Indian Ambassador, MK Bhadrakumar explains:

“What the Saudis and Emiratis are expecting as follow-up in the near future is a certain “rebooting” of the traditional Afghan-Islamist ideology of the Taliban and its quintessentially nationalistic “Afghan-centric” outlook with a significant dosage of Wahhabi indoctrination … [so as to] make it possible [to] integrate the Taliban into the global jihadi network and co-habitate it with extremist organisations such as the variants of Islamic State or al-Qaeda … so that geopolitical projects can be undertaken in regions such as Central Asia and the Caucasus or Iran from the Afghan soil, under a comprador Taliban leadership”.

Bolton was also able to get Trump to agree to pull most of the troops out of Syria, leave just enough behind to call in airstrikes to protect what’s left of ISIS and relocate the rest to Iraq.

Trump gets to say he fulfilled a campaign promise, and everyone’s plans for War with Iran stays on schedule.

So, if I’m right (and there’s no guarantee that I am) what purpose does poking a fight between India and Pakistan serve?

Many, unfortunately.

1. One it sells the regional chaos angle about the need to continue the War on Terror.

2. ISIS is gone but we still have to fight Iran.

3. It punishes India for daring to get off the reservation.

4. It reminds Khan just how tenuous his hold on power is.

5. It is a warning to China that the US will risk everything to not lose the Heartland.

Add in the proximity to the Trump-Kim meeting as well as the fractious trade talks with China and you have an orgy of related news all at the same time to drive the point home.

Bolton, the Brits, France and Netanyahu were willing to risk World War III in Syria to create a false flag event in which Russia attacked a NATO target – the downing of the IL-20 ELINT aircraft last September.

Do you not think these insane animals wouldn’t risk a nuclear conflict between Pakistan and India to blow up (literally) China’s plans to win the biggest prize in geopolitics?

If you don’t then you haven’t been paying attention.

Both Imran Khan and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi need to keep their heads here. Modi has an election coming up later this year. I’m sure the calculus was that he would jump at the opportunity to burnish his cred with voters by lobbing a few bombs inside Pakistan. For Khan, this is the first real test of his leadership and he has to resist the siren’s call of the Saudi’s money to balance all sides of the equation while de-escalating this situation as quickly as possible.

One thing is for certain, we haven’t seen the last of this.

Photo: Flickr

حرب كشمير بواجهة هندية ـ باكستانية وتورّط دولي مكشوف!

مارس 1, 2019

د. وفيق ابراهيم

تَحوّلَ النزاع الهندي الباكستاني على منطقة كشمير الفاصلة بينهما مشروع حرب فعلية قد تشعل أكثر من شبه القارة الهندية.

لا شك أنّ هناك أسباباً هندية – باكستانية للصراع لم يجد أحدٌ له حلاً حتى الآن لكنه التزم بعد اندلاع حرب كبيرة بين طرفيها في 1972 بحدود الأمر الواقع في إطار هدنة مضبوطة، فما الذي استجدّ حتى يتحضّر البلدان لمواجهة واسعة؟

تصل مساحة كشمير الى 86 الف كلم مربع تقريباً تسيطر الهند على 65 في المئة منها تقريباً والباقي لباكستان كما تحتوي على غالبية إسلامية مقابل أقلية بوذية.

للتوضيح فإنّ انفصال الولايات الإسلامية في الهند بمسمّى جديد هو باكستان كان يُراد منه انفصال كامل الأقليات الإسلامية في شبه القارة الهندية، ونتيجة للبعد الجغرافي عن باكستان بقي ملايين المسلمين في أنحاء أخرى من الهند واحترب البلدان للاستحواذ على كشمير المنطقة الحدودية بينهما.

وكان التوتر السياسي يندلع على كشمير بين الفينة والأخرى لكنه لم يصل ومنذ 1972 إلى مرحلة حرب مكتفياً باشتباكات حدودية محدودة جداً تقتصر على مشاركة قليل من الجنود المنتشرين على حدود كشمير بين البلدين.

لجهة الأسباب الداخلية فإنّ جزءاً هاماً من «الإسلام المتطرف» ذي الجذر القاعدي موجود في باكستان وخصوصاً في كشمير ونما في مئات المراكز الاسلامية التي أسّستها السعودية ولا تزال تموّلها حتى تاريخه بمشاركة إماراتية ودعم من منظمة طالبان من مراكز نفوذها من أفغانستان المحاذية.

فرَفدَ هذا الاتجاه المتطرف التيارات الإسلامية في كشمير التي تعمل على تحرير القسم التي تسيطر عليه الهند فيها.

هناك فريق رابع تولى تقديم التسهيلات اللوجستية وحرية الحركة للتنظيمات الإسلامية وهي المخابرات الباكستانية التي لا يزال الغرب يتهمها حتى الآن بدعم القاعدة وطالبان في أفغانستان وتتهمها الهند حالياً بتوفير ظروف مناسبة لشنّ ضربات على القوات الهندية في كشمير وحتى داخل الهند.

لقد شكلت هذه التحالفات الغطاء الداخلي للعملية التي نفذها تشكيل إرهابي يُدعى «جيش محمد» مستهدفاً فيها كتيبة للجيش الهندي في مركز انتشاره في كشمير وأدّت الى مذبحة موصوفة.

ما أغضب نيودلهي ليست المذبحة فقط، إنما السلوك الباكستاني المتراخي الذي لم يمنح الهجوم الإرهابي الاهمية التي يستحقها.

واكتفت بشجب الهجوم والتعهّد بالتحقيق لكشف الفاعلين وهم معروفون سلفاً من أجهزتها، مشكلين جزءاً من بنية إرهابية تنتشر في معظم الجزء الباكستاني من كشمير.

لذلك حاولت الهند تنظيم ردّ عسكري يستبقُ فكرة مواصلة الهجمات على قواتها، فكانت الغارة الجوية الهندية على مواقع «جيش محمد» وتبيّن انّ باكستان كانت تتوقع مثل هذا الردّ فجابهته بشكل صارم الأمر الذي دفع بالبلدين لحشد قواتهما على حدوديهما في كشمير في حركات تصعيدية قد تتدحرج نحو حرب بين بلدين نوويين، وتعهّدت باكستان بإعادة طيار هندي أسقطت طائرته مقابل توقف الاستنفار الهندي.

تكشف هذه التفاصيل انّ أقساماً من المخابرات الباكستانية تعمل بإيحاء خارجي قابل للمضاعفة إذا كانت الهند العدو التقليدي هي المستهدف.

والسؤال هنا، لماذا يستهدفُ هذا الإيحاء الخارجي لمخابرات اسلام أباد الهند؟ وماذا فعلت؟

لم تفعل الهند ما يعادي علاقاتها الإقليمية والدولية، لكنها استمرّت بشراء النفط من إيران في حركة كسر للمقاطعة الأميركية التي تمنع العالم من علاقات اقتصادية طبيعية مع طهران، وهذا استفز الأميركيين ولم يتمكّن ولي العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان في زيارته الأخيرة للهند من إقناع حكامها بشراء نفط سعودي بسعر تشجيعي مقابل وقف شراء النفط الإيراني.

أما السلوك الهندي الأهمّ الذي يستفزّ دوائر القرار في واشنطن فيتعلق بانفتاح الهند على روسيا والصين في مؤتمر يُهيّئ لتحالف جديد ترى فيه واشنطن «المكوّن العالمي الوحيد» الجدير بمجابهة الامبراطورية الأميركية المتراجعة.

هذا ما دفع بالبيت الأبيض إلى بناء خطة من مستويين: زعزعة الاستقرار الداخلي الهندي بواسطة الإسلام المتطرف الذي لا يصيبه في كشمير فقط، بل داخل الهند أيضاً حيث تنتشر أقليات إسلامية كبيرة.

فكانت بداية الخطة في هجوم جيش محمد في كشمير وبذلك يكسب الأميركيون على مستويين: إضعاف الهند داخلياً والاستمرار في تشويه علاقة الإسلام بالأديان الاخرى، والعالم عموماً.

من جانب آخر، يواصل الأميركيون عبثاً محاولة الحدّ من الصعود الصيني بمفاوضات تتحسّن وتسوء إلا انها لا تستطيع كبح الاندفاع الصيني نحو حلف مع الهند وروسيا يبدو ضرورياً لكسر أحادية التسلط الأميركي على العالم.

فهل يجد الأميركيون ضرورة لخلق ظروف مؤاتية لتفجير حرب كبيرة بين الهند وباكستان؟

الموضوع جدير بالانتباه لانه يندرج في إطار إشعال الأميركيين لكامل الحروب في العالم.

أليست واشنطن من احتلّ افغانستان والعراق وسورية وقسماً من أميركا اللاتينية، وتستعدّ لمغامرة عسكرية في فنزويلا، وهناك ليبيا المدمّرة وتونس المتأرجحة ومصر المتدهورة والسودان الذي يتحضّر لحروب أهلية، أليس الأميركيون من ينشر الصواريخ في شرق أوروبا؟

يتبيّن أنّ على روسيا والصين مهمة وقف مشروع الحرب الباكسانية الهندية بمفاوضات معمّقة لأنها حرب أميركية تستهدفهم أيضاً وتقع في مواجهة حدودهم السياسية وأمنهم الداخلي.

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Pakistan to Release Indian Pilot on Friday as ‘Peace Gesture’

Pakistan to Release Indian Pilot on Friday as 'Peace Gesture'

TEHRAN (FNA)– Prime Minister Imran Khan stated that the Indian pilot who was captured by Pakistani forces will be released on Friday, after New Delhi called upon Islamabad to release and return the Indian pilot who was arrested by the Pakistan Army after his aircraft had been shot down.

“As a peace gesture we will be releasing him tomorrow,” Khan told parliament in Islamabad on Thursday, RIA Novosti reported.

Khan, making the announcement in an address to both houses of Parliament, added that he tried to reach Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday with a message that he wants to de-escalate tension.

Talking about the incident, he stated that he had feared that India could have launched a missile attack, but the situation was later calmed.

Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated as the two countries engaged in an air battle.

Pakistan claimed on Wednesday that it had downed two Indian warplanes which entered its airspace over the disputed Kashmir border, and captured an Indian pilot.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Indian Armed Forces officials confirmed having shot down a Pakistani Air Force F-16, saying the plane was downed by an Indian MiG 21 Bison on Wednesday in a skirmish.

Indian Air Force officials noted that they were pleased with Pakistan’s decision to return Indian fighter pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, and looked forward to his return to India.

The Indian Armed Forces also stressed that the Indian Navy was put in a high state of readiness amid tensions between the two countries, with its surface, submarine and air components ready to ‘deter and defeat’ any ‘misadventure’ by Pakistan.

It came a day after Indian jets crossed into Pakistan to bomb a Jaish-e-Mohammad terror camp in the Kashmir region.

India’s air raids in Pakistan came after a deadly terrorist attack when a car carrying over 100 pounds of explosives detonated next to a security convoy, killing 45 Indian paramilitary officers. India named Maulana Masood Azhar, the leader of the Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist group residing in Pakistan, as the person responsible for ordering the attack and accused Pakistan of harboring and protecting terrorists. In turn, Islamabad has rejected the allegations of its involvement in the attack.

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رتجاجات شرق البحر المتوسط والعالم في شبه القارة الهندية

فبراير 28, 2019

محمد صادق الحسيني

ليس مستغرباً أن تصل تبعات التحوّلات الاستراتيجية الكبرى في غرب آسيا وشرق البحر المتوسط إلى الساحة الهندية لتوقظ نزاعاً تاريخياً وجغرافياً وسياسياً مريراً حول مصائر شعوب وأقوام شبه القارة الهندية من جديد…!

قد يكون العامل المباشر في التصعيد الجاري حالياً بين دولتي شبه القارة الهندية النوويتين هو التفجيرات الأخيرة التي حصلت في الهند والتي وجهت نيودلهي أصابع الاتهام فيها الى حكومة إسلام آباد، لكن هذا ليس هو أصل الحكاية، فالرواية الحقيقية لا تكتمل إلا بقراءة بعض فصولها المحجوبة عن الأنظار بسبب صراع الإرادات الإقليمية والدولية المحيطة بالدولتين اللدودتين…!

فرغم كلّ التعثر الذي يرافق إعادة صياغة السلطة في الباكستان على قواعد جديدة بعيدة عن المعسكر الوهابي الإرهابي إقليمياً والامبريالي دولياً من بعد فوز عمران خان برئاسة الحكومة هناك، فإنّ محاولة الصعود الباكستاني المستقلّ نسبياً عن دوائر القرار الدولي أثار ولا يزال حفيظة الهند الخصم اللدود لدولة المسلمين الجديدة الدخول الى نادي لعبة الأمم منذ نهاية الحرب العالمية الثانية…!

فباكستان عمران خان التي استقبلت محمد بن سلمان أخيراً والتي يُراد لها من وجهة نظر أميركية وسعودية ان تصبح ولو في الظاهر «لاعباً إسلامياً» مناكفاً أمام الجمهورية الإسلامية الإيرانية، رافعة لواء المقاومة بوجه الإرهاب الوهابي ولاحتلال الصهيوني، باتت تشكل من جديد بالنسبة للهند قوة يُحسب لها حساب في الصراع الأميركي الروسي في شبه القارة الهندية، وهذا ما يثير حفيظة الهند الواقعة في المدار الروسي عملياً منذ عقود…!

ولأنّ حكومة عمران خان النازعة نحو استقلالية القرار النسبي عن واشنطن قامت مؤخراً في هذا السياق بتكثيف التنسيق السياسي مع الاتحاد الروسي في بعض الملفات الدولية، فإنّ ذلك زاد الطين بلة بالنسبة للهند التي تعتبر نفسها الدولة الأكثر رعاية لدى الروس منذ زمن الحرب الباردة الأميركية السوفياتية، فكيف تدخل الباكستان الى حرمها الدولي هذا دون استئذان…؟

من جهة أخرى فإنّ التحوّلات الجيو سياسية والجيواستراتيجية بين إسلام آباد وبكين إنْ من زاوية الطاقة أو الطرق والمواصلات براً وبحراً أو من زاوية تنامي المشاورات السياسية التي هي أصلاً محكمة بين الجانبين منذ أمد بعيد قد وضعت الباكستان من جديد حليفاً لا يمكن تجاهله للصين الصاعدة عالمياً فإنّ من شأن ذلك أن يثير حفيظة الهند أيضاً لأنها سترى نفسها بين كماشتي واشنطن وبكين من جديد…!

كلّ ذلك جعل نيودلهي أكثر تحفزاً لعمل أيّ شئ يوقف هذا الصعود الباكستاني الإقليمي والدولي المستفز…!

ثم انّ الهند التي تعتبر الباكستان في الأساس وليداً غير شرعي خرج من رحمها قسراً في نهاية الحرب الكونية الثانية، فكيف بها ان تتحمّل هذا الوليد وهو يتحوّل امام عينيها كائناً شرعياً بنظر الدول الكبرى، بل ولاعباً إقليمياً وقوة وازنة في الصراعات الدولية، إضافة إلى تقدّمه بخطى واعدة باتجاه أبواب الدخول لمجموعة بريكس ومنتدى شنغهاي اللذين تعتبرهما الهند جزءاً من الحيّز الحيوي لها دولياً…!

في مثل هذه اللحظة التاريخية الباكستانية الصاعدة يصبح من غير المهمّ لدولة تاريخية عريقة مثل الهند ان تظهر أمام العالم متهمة في كسر قواعد الاشتباك التاريخي – التي تمنع التفجير – والتي حكمت البلدين المتنازعين على الحدود منذ توقف القتال بينهما حول إقليم كشمير منذ عقود، ولتكون هي البادئة بالقصف الجوي على الأراضي الباكستانية لا سيما أنّ الذريعة جاءت مؤاتية، ايّ مكافحة الإرهاب وتحت مسمّى قصف معسكر «جيش محمد» الذي تتهمه نيودلهي بأنه يقف وراء تفجيرات الهند الأخيرة…!

انها لحظة تبدّل موازين القوى في أكثر من ساحة دولية وشبه القارة الهندية ليست استثناءً في هذا العالم المتحوّل في كلّ لحظة وكلّ حين…!

بعدنا طيّبين قولوا الله…

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The Pakistani general who tamed the Saudi crown prince

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Pakistan’s relationship with the UAE and Saudi Arabia is being reshaped by its army chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman walk with Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa in Islamabad on 18 February (Handout/PMH/AFP)

Ever since arriving in office, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has made the UAE and Saudi Arabia central to the strategy that his government calls “economic diplomacy“.

Pakistan has been plagued by decades of endemic corruption and feudal dynastic politics, which have brought the country to the brink of economic ruin. So why is the recently concluded trip of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) being seen as a landmark visit with strategic implications not just for their bilateral relationship, but also for Pakistan’s role in the Middle East?

The answer lies with Pakistan Army chief of staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who has quietly reset the army’s relations with the Middle East, starting with Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

A brief history of Saudi-Pakistani ties

Riyadh has always been an active participant in Pakistan’s domestic affairs, according to Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs.

For decades, analysts and policymakers have written about the Saudi role in Pakistan, with a focus on their military partnership. The former Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Turki bin Faisal, described their bilateral relationship as likely being one of the closest in the world “without any official treaty”.

Never before have the Saudis invested so heavily in Pakistan at the state level, without benefiting a specific politician or general

This is where the problem lay in the past: for too long, military and civilian leaders of Pakistan have benefited from Saudi largesse. Former President Pervez Musharraf admitted to receiving personal favours and financial rewards, and the Saudis have long been dismissive about the corruption of Pakistani leaders.

It is for this reason that the Saudis have always preferred military rule in Pakistan, while former generals have allegedly profited personally, rather than helping Pakistan’s cause. Musharraf has said that under Saudi pressure, he let former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif go, despite court action and question marks over his rule.

The appointment of former army chief General Raheel Sharif as head of the Saudi-funded “Muslim NATO” raised many eyebrows in Pakistan, given the biased nature of the alliance and the absence of key Muslim countries, including Indonesia, Iran, Algeria and Iraq.

Why was this visit different?

Much fanfare in Islamabad accompanied the recent trip by MBS, with a national holiday declared in the capital and the city in virtual shutdown over the arrival of the Saudi entourage. Never before have the Saudis invested so heavily in Pakistan at the state level, without benefiting a specific politician or general. 

The key aspect missing from previous visits was the term “strategic”. In this latest visit, Jubeir emphatically stated that none of the Saudi largesse was charity, but rather an investment. This business-minded, progressive approach marks a significant shift from previous relationships.

Khan and MBS ride in a carriage in Islamabad on 18 February (Bandar al-Jaloud/Saudi Royal Palace/AFP)
Khan and MBS ride in a carriage in Islamabad on 18 February (Bandar al-Jaloud/Saudi Royal Palace/AFP)

Before the MBS visit, leading Saudi expert Mohammed al-Sulami led a delegation that for the first time included academics, former ambassadors, generals and Saudis with active experience concerning Pakistan. It was concluded that strategic ties would be established over personal ties.

Analyst Ibrahim al-Othaimin also wrote about this last year, arguing that Pakistani-Saudi ties were gradually moving out of the personal domain and into the strategic. One of the key reasons for this strategic push has been the defence diplomacy of Javed Bajwa, as highlighted by Sulami.

Changing the equation

Pakistan’s refusal in 2015 to take part in the Yemen conflict rang alarm bells in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The UAE went so far as to say Pakistan would pay a “heavy price” for its “ambiguous stand”, and led a media campaign against Pakistan when Islamabad voted in favour of Turkey for Expo 2020.

In the years before Bajwa came to office in November 2016, the UAE had drifted closer to India, even sending its troops to take part in an Indian military parade. The logic in the UAE and Saudi Arabia was that “we pay the Pakistanis, so we should get support”. This reflected decades of Pakistani subservience to Saudi rulers, which failed to put the interests of the state first.

Not cricket: As Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan is facing his greatest test

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In 2015, Saudi officials said that Pakistan failed to provide an adequate rationale for its Yemen decision. Bajwa subsequently embarked on a frantic diplomacy mission, explaining to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi that Pakistan stood ready to help, but had strategic constraints.

He said that while Pakistan would aid the two Gulf countries in defence, it would not take sides in the proxy war with Iran or the Qatar blockade.

Under Bajwa, Qatar’s emir publicly thanked the Pakistan Army for strengthening the Qatari military and playing a positive role in regional issues. The emir was clearly talking about the Saudi-led blockade, as well as bilateral cooperation in Afghan peace talks.

A strategic and equal partner

In addition to taking on the role of mentor for several Gulf armies, Bajwa became the first Pakistan Army chief in decades to make an official visit to Iran, where he called for strategic defence ties. In diplomatic and military circles behind the scenes, and according to my sources, Bajwa has said that MBS needs time, and that he, Bajwa, would play a role in reducing Gulf tensions.

Unlike in the past, Riyadh is viewing Bajwa and Khan as its equals rather than its puppets

So, while the headlines have focused on Khan’s public embrace of MBS, on the sidelines, the man who has reset the relationship between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia – and Pakistan and the UAE – has been Bajwa. He has made Pakistan a strategic and equal partner, rather than a proxy in a Middle East conflict.

Even as the Saudis denounced Iran from Islamabad, the message from Pakistan was one of cooperation with Tehran. Pakistani-Saudi ties are taking on a strategic dimension, yet without surrendering Pakistan’s relations with other states in the region. Unlike in the past, Riyadh is viewing Bajwa and Khan as its equals rather than its puppets.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Kamal Alam
Kamal Alam is a Visiting Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). He specialises in contemporary military history of the Arab world and Pakistan, he is a Fellow for Syrian Affairs at The Institute for Statecraft, and is a visiting lecturer at several military staff colleges across the Middle East, Pakistan and the UK.

Zionist Media Cites Bin Salman’s Failure to Provoke Pakistan, India & China against Iran

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Zionist Media Cites Bin Salman’s Failure to Provoke Pakistan, India & China against Iran

The Pakistani State-run TV Channel muted the broadcast of the speech delivered by the Saudi state minister for the foreign affairs Adel Al-Jubeir while he was tackling the Iranian cause, one Zionist political analyst said.

The Israeli media channels cited the Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman’s failure to  provoke Pakistan, India and China against Iran, adding that India rejected his offer to sell it the same amount of oil it purchases from Tehran for a lower price.

The Zionist analysts considered that Bin Salman tried to build more political partnerships and alliances in order to improve his conditions in his relation with the United States.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

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