Taliban ousts its only Shia Hazara commander: Report

Taliban clashes with Mehdi Mujahid over a power dispute, ending an era of Hazara representation in its ranks

June 24 2022

ByNews Desk 

Clashes reignited on 23 June between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and locals led by Mawlawi Mehdi Mujahid, the only Shia Hazara commander in the ranks of Taliban, in Balkhab, Sar-e Pol province.

Mehdi was the first to be officially endorsed as a member of the group by its leadership in 2020, despite not being the first Shia to collaborate with Taliban in Afghanistan.

Over the past decades, local Hazara commanders, such as Turan Amanullah, have collaborated with Taliban to solicit more influence, setting a pretext for an unexpected alliance.

However, not long after Mehdi was assigned as the head of intelligence of Bamyan as a show of goodwill by Taliban towards the Shia Hazara community, the struggle over resources and influence caused a rift between the two.

According to footage shared on social media by locals in Sar-e Pol, Mehdi retreated to his hometown to escape possible arrest, rallying the Hazara community to fend against an imminent Taliban attack that was preluded by a siege.

Mehdi accuses the Taliban of persecuting Hazaras and sidelining millions of Shia after banning Jafari jurisprudence from universities and from courts in Shia-majority areas.

However, the straw that broke the camel’s back was the dispute over the revenue generated by the coal mines in Balkhab, which Mehdi used to invest into strengthening his leadership in the province and to advancing it economically, without sharing the revenue with the new leadership in Kabul.

Taliban accuses Mehdi of embezzling more than $600,000 from the coal mine export business.

But despite the accusations, the spokesman for the Taliban governor in Bamiyan Mullah Abdullah Sarhadi alleged that Mehdi would be appointed “in a suitable place in Kabul” upon his return.

Mehdi left Kabul in late May after failing in his bid to be appointed the deputy head of the Intelligence Directorate’s Dispute Resolution Council, after opposition by the acting Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani.

In the wake of the energy crisis caused by the Indonesian ban on coal exports and US sanctions against Russian fuel exports over the Ukrainian war, Pakistan’s reliance on coal imports skyrocketed.

In a report by Voice of America (VOA), Pakistani imports from Afghanistan rose from $550 million to $700 over a year, citing reports of increased purchases of Afghan coal and “extremely good quality cotton”.

“We intend to open several of the proposed gates every two or three months. We have discussed it with Afghan (Taliban) leaders and told them to arrange for manning these posts, so they know who is moving in and out,” a Pakistani official said to VOA.

“In the last six months, we have earned more than three billion Afghanis (Afghanistan’s national currency) from coal exports, and we want to make it easier to have more revenue in this area,” said Ahmad Wali Haqmal, a spokesman for the Taliban-led Ministry of Finance.

With the growing influence of Sirajuddin Haqqani – who is on the FBI’s most wanted list for his alleged connection to Al-Qaeda and terrorist attacks in Afghanistan – the Taliban has engaged in several sectarian and racial disputes with Tajik and Uzbek minorities since its rise to power, a factor that could threaten the status quo.

Pepe Escobar : Interview with The Press Project

May 22, 2022

From a unipolar to a multipolar world.  This is my itvw with the wonderful folks at The Press Project in Greece.  In English, with Greek subtitles.

The Middle Corridor Will Help China Hedge Against Uncertainty In Russia & Pakistan

17 MAY 2022

The Middle Corridor Will Help China Hedge Against Uncertainty In Russia & Pakistan

It’s unrealistic that China would ever abandon its investments in Russia or Pakistan, but those two’s connectivity roles for it vis-à-vis the EU and West Asia/Africa respectively can be complemented by Turkey and Iran via the Middle Corridor.

American political analyst

By Andrew Korybko

Up until the beginning of this year, China’s grand strategy was to rely on a network of connectivity corridors across its Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) to integrate Eurasia and thus advance its non-Western model of globalization, which Beijing believes to be more equal, just, and multipolar than the declining Western-centric one. This ambitious plan was abruptly disrupted by two black swan events that created sudden uncertainty about the viability of BRI’s Russian and Pakistani routes: Moscow’s ongoing special military operation in Ukraine and Islamabad’s scandalous change of government.

The first-mentioned prompted the US-led West to impose unprecedented sanctions that resulted in the forced decoupling of Russia and the EU while the second led to the global pivot state’s worst-ever political crisis since independence that’s also been exploited by BLA terrorists. Regarding Russia, it’s no longer a realistic transit route for overland trade between Eastern and Western Eurasia. As for Pakistan, there are suspicions that its new authorities’ speculative proUS pivot will occur at China’s expense. The BLA’s recent terrorist attack also led to all Confucius Institution teachers returning home for their safety.

China still considers Russia and Pakistan to be among its top strategic partners anywhere in the world, especially since both veritably play indispensable roles in Eurasia’s irreversible multipolar integration due to BRI’s Eurasian Land Bridge and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) respectively. Nevertheless, their reliability in the present is less than it was at the start of the year, which is why China might understandably begin hedging against their uncertainties that could last for an indeterminate length of time by focusing more on the Middle Corridor.

This project refers to the connectivity route between Turkey and China via the South Caucasus, Caspian Sea, and Central Asia. In the current conditions, it represents the most viable trans-Eurasian corridor. There are undoubtedly some risks associated with it as evidenced by the sudden attempted terrorist takeover of Kazakhstan in January, which had previously been considered to be Central Asia’s most stable state. That said, compared to the connectivity risks connected to Russia and Pakistan nowadays, the Middle Corridor is much more reliable and safer in all respects.

The implications of the People’s Republic pressing through with this pragmatic back-up plan could be enormous since it would throw a spanner in Russia and Pakistan’s geo-economic strategies, even though it’s not Beijing’s fault that they’re no longer viable connectivity partners, but their own due to the decisions they made. That’s not to cast judgement on them, but just to point out that China would simply be responding to events beyond its control or influence in order to advance its interests that it considers to be to the greater benefit of mankind due to its envisioned community of common destiny.

Russia and Pakistan are obviously part of mankind just like everyone else is but China cannot keep a disproportionate amount of its BRI eggs in their basket, so to speak, which is why it’ll likely be compelled by circumstances to focus more on the Middle Corridor in the coming years. Despite occasional troubles in its ties with Turkey stemming from the sympathy that some in that West Asian country have for Uyghur separatists that China considers to be terrorists, relations are generally solid and actually stand to become much more strategic the longer that uncertainty prevails in Russia and Pakistan.

To explain, Europe hasn’t yet been pressured by its American overlord to curtail ties with China exactly like it recently curtailed those with Russia. For the time being, they’re still in a relationship of complex economic interdependence with the People’s Republic, yet the Eurasian Land Bridge through Russia is no longer a viable means for conducting their future overland trade. For that reason, the Middle Corridor anchored in Turkey is much more attractive since goods can transit through this route between the EU and China instead of remaining dependent on the Suez Canal.

President Erdogan could leverage his civilization-state’s unexpectedly disproportionate geo-economic role in Eurasian integration to reduce the US-led West’s pressure upon Turkey exactly as he could do the same in the event that he succeeds in clinching an EU-Israeli pipeline deal in the coming future. His isn’t the only Muslim Great Power that would benefit from the Middle Corridor though since neighboring Iran can prospectively do as well. It can connect to that BRI route via Turkmenistan or perhaps by pioneering its own “Persian Corridor” to China through Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

Whichever way it happens, there’s no doubt that there’s mutual interest between Iran and China to strengthen their connectivity with one another after last year’s 25-year strategic partnership pact. They could have possibly done so by expanding CPEC in the western direction (W-CPEC+) but the newfound political and security uncertainty in Pakistan has made that unviable for the foreseeable future, hence why China might simply go ahead with expanding the Middle Corridor to Iran and/or cooperating on the Persian Corridor proposal.

China’s ties with the Gulf Kingdoms are also very strong, especially since the People’s Republic plans to invest in their systemic reform programs for diversifying their economies from their hitherto disproportionate dependence on resource exports. While their relations with Iran remain complex, there’s been visible progress over the past year or so in taking baby steps towards a rapprochement, particularly in terms of Tehran’s ties with Abu Dhabi and Riyadh. In the event that this continues, Iran could serve as the transit state for facilitating real-sector Chinese-Gulf trade.

Iran also abuts the Indian Ocean just like neighboring Pakistan does, but unlike the latter, Iran isn’t mired in political and security uncertainty so it could complement – though importantly never replace – the envisioned role that Pakistan was supposed to play with respect to facilitating Chinese-African trade. Nobody should misunderstand what’s being written in this analysis: it’s unrealistic that China would ever abandon its investments in Russia or Pakistan, but those two’s connectivity roles for it vis-à-vis the EU and West Asia/Africa respectively can be complemented by Turkey and Iran via the Middle Corridor.

What all of this means is that the uncertainty in Russia and Pakistan, while detrimental for their own interests as well as their role in Eurasia’s multipolar integration, provides unexpected opportunities for China to diversify BRI by focusing more on the Central Asian-Caspian Sea-South Caucasus-Gulf direction through the comparatively much more reliable and safer Middle Corridor. Turkey and Iran are the two Great Powers that stand to benefit the most from this, not to mention the medium- and smaller-sized countries between them and China. All told, the comprehensive gains might outweigh the setbacks.

Everything’s Getting Messy Again In Afghanistan

15 MAY 2022

Source

By Andrew Korybko

Afghanistan’s internal insecurity, border tensions, and the potentially Pakistani-backed US military factor are combining to create yet another storm in the New Cold War that threatens to destabilize the region.

Russia’s ongoing special military operation in Ukraine and the US-led West’s unprecedented response to it have distracted the international community from Afghanistan, which is once again becoming an issue of regional concern. The foreign occupiers’ chaotic evacuation from that country last August and the Taliban’s return to power in the aftermath haven’t stabilized the situation all that much. The group is still designated as terrorists by most of the world and their leadership remains unrecognized despite all stakeholders – including Russia — still interacting with them for pragmatism’s sake.

Afghanistan somehow avoided the full-scale humanitarian crisis that many were worried about but its people’s most basic needs still aren’t being adequately met. Observers also feel very uncomfortable about the Taliban returning to its old ways by once again banning women from showing their uncovered faces in public. The comparatively more secular and ethnically cosmopolitan northern part of the country that’s majority inhabited by Tajiks and other Central Asian people might not take too kindly to this decree, which could fuel anti-government movements there.

In fact, it was reported just this weekend that the “National Resistance Front” (NRF) has returned to fighting against the Taliban in the Panjshir Valley. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was asked about this on Friday following the CIS Foreign Ministers Council meeting in Dushanbe where he reiterated Moscow’s stance that the only sustainable political solution is to form an ethno-regionally inclusive government. He also expressed optimism that “our allies in Tajikistan with serious influence in Afghanistan, primarily the country’s north, will also keep helping us achieve our common goals.”

That former Soviet Republic is a key stakeholder in Afghanistan since it exerts influence over its co-ethnics across the border and was previously suspected of supporting anti-Taliban forces there. President Putin also spoke to his Tajik counterpart Rahmon on Friday, during which time the two discussed Afghanistan and confirmed that they’ll “continue to cooperate to ensure security on the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border.” This is especially important following reports that ISIS-K terrorists from Afghanistan recently claimed credit for a cross-border attack that Tajik officials nonetheless denied.

On the topic of cross-border terrorism emanating from Afghanistan, neighboring Pakistan reportedly carried out several strikes there in the middle of last month against TPP terrorists who martyred several of their soldiers days prior. Islamabad also reportedly just handed over two top TPP commanders to the Afghan Taliban, who’ve been mediating peace talks between them. Amidst all of this, Pakistan remains mired in political uncertainty following its scandalous change of government in early April that former Prime Minister Khan claims was orchestrated by the US as punishment for his independent policies.

While its internal security situation is expected to remain stable considering the world-class professionalism of its military and intelligence services, speculation abounds about the trajectory of its foreign policy. Newly inaugurated Foreign Minister Bhutto’s upcoming trip to the US is inconveniently occurring at the exact moment that its political, economic, and international uncertainties are converging. The relevance of this to Afghanistan is the US’ recent reaffirmation that it retains the capabilities to strike terrorists in Afghanistan if it so chooses, perhaps with speculative Pakistani support.  

Former Prime Minister Khan claimed that the alleged US-orchestrated regime change plot against him first started when he publicly said that his country will “absolutely not” host any American bases in the wake of the US’ withdrawal from neighboring Afghanistan. Critics of the new authorities who replaced him suspect that they might be secretly negotiating some sort of military arrangement with the US to facilitate American anti-terrorist strikes there, which could possibly target ISIS-K but also the TTP that Washington also officially regards as terrorists just like Islamabad does.

While there’s nothing of tangible substance to base this speculation on, it’s still a matter of public record that the US said on multiple occasions that it’s actively seeking out regional bases to facilitate its so-called “over-the-horizon” strikes in Afghanistan. Russia was concerned that its American rival might poach one of the Central Asian Republics from its informal “sphere influence” into this scheme, though that hasn’t materialized, at least not yet. Even so, Moscow must be watching Washington’s reported $20 million unarmed Puma drone deal with Dushanbe with suspicion to see where it might lead.

On the topic of cross-border attacks, it also deserves mentioning that reports came in a few weeks back alleging that tensions were boiling along the Afghan-Iranian border. Tehran denied that any clashes took place but most observers still consider ties between it and the Taliban to be very complicated, to say the least. Taking stock of the overall situation, Afghanistan’s domestic stability has been rocked by ISIS-K suicide bombings and the latest reported “NRF” offensive while international tensions are dangerously growing between the Taliban and its Iranian, Pakistani, and Tajik neighbors.

Against the backdrop of the Taliban imposing its strict socio-religious standards onto the rest of the population in spite of the risk that this will only worsen resentment from some minorities against it, as well as the country’s humanitarian crisis being far from resolved even though it hasn’t yet exploded, it can be concluded that everything risks spiraling out of control if all these counterproductive trends aren’t soon reversed. Pakistan’s crossing of the Rubicon by kinetically defending its objective national security interests through reported anti-TTP strikes also adds an unpredictable dimension to this too.

The same can be said for the pivot towards the US that the new authorities’ critics suspect is unfolding and which might manifest itself through those two unofficially teaming up to occasionally fight terrorism in Afghanistan. The US is still actively searching for a regional base, which can only realistically be in Pakistan if it ever comes to pass since its new Tajik partner can’t legally host one without Russia’s approval due to its legal commitments through the CSTO mutual defense pact. Any enhanced Pakistani-American anti-terrorist and/or military cooperation could greatly reshape regional dynamics.

All the while, there’s also some positive news too even though it pales in comparison to the negative. Foreign Minister Lavrov spoke at the beginning of the month about the need for mutually beneficial economic engagement with Afghanistan, which he repeated on Friday after the CIS meeting that was hyperlinked to earlier in this analysis. New Taliban-appointed Afghan charge d’affairs to Russia Jamal Nasir Garwal, who also reportedly attended the Victory Day parade in Moscow, publicly reciprocated this interest by emphasizing how much his country needs Russian energy resources right now.

These signals prompted speculation that a Taliban delegation might soon travel to Moscow to discuss such deals, though Russian Special Presidential Envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov denied that anything of the sort was in the cards at this moment. Still, that would represent a positive development if it comes to pass and would complement the Taliban’s planned economic cooperation with China. The larger trend seems to be that while Afghanistan’s ties with Iran, Pakistan, and Tajikistan become more complicated, its ties with Russia and China are becoming more comprehensive.

To be absolutely clear, correlation doesn’t mean causation so nobody should think that regional stakeholders are dividing into pro- and anti-Taliban blocs, but it’s still an important trend to pay attention to since it suggests that Russia and China might soon be able to exert more influence over the Taliban than previously expected. In the event that Pakistan strikes some sort of anti-terrorist or military deal with the US as part of its speculative plans to repair ties with it through such arrangements that critics might describe as concessions, then those two might become more suspicious of its intentions.

After all, Pakistan has unofficially frozen talks with Russia over what former Prime Minister Khan insists were his previously active negotiations to purchase fuel from Moscow, including at a 30% discount, but which the new Energy Minister claimed had never happened. The latter said this in spite of there being documented evidence from credible sources confirming that his statement was factually incorrect, including Foreign Minister Lavrov revealing while in Islamabad on 7 April 2021 that there was “mutual interest” in this, “appropriate proposals have been put forward”, and Russia is “waiting for a response”.

The scandal over Russian-Pakistani energy talks concerns much more than just those two countries since all interested observers can now see that the new authorities are publicly distancing themselves from their predecessors’ negotiations with the Kremlin for whatever reason, even going as far as to share factually incorrect information with the public about this. The impression that they’re probably left with is that this might be done under American pressure, which in turn adds credence to former Prime Minister Khan’s narrative about the US being behind his ouster and now influencing his replacements.

This insight is pertinent for Afghanistan since it also adds credence to suspicions that Pakistan and the US might be secretly negotiating some anti-terrorist or military deals focused on that war-torn country, with Islamabad possibly even conceding on some issues that its prior government never would have in pursuit of clinching such an agreement in the hopes of repairing its troubled ties with Washington. The reintroduction of US forces to the region, even clandestine ones such as CIA drone teams, could be very destabilizing and thus contribute to even more uncertainty about Afghanistan’s overall situation.

The scenario of Pakistan’s new authorities, who rose to power through scandalous circumstances that the ousted premier attributed to a US-orchestrated conspiracy, facilitating the American military’s and/or intelligence’s return to the region would certainly be frowned upon by all regional stakeholders. No matter what’s said between their diplomats, it’s doubtful that they place much trust in that country’s new leadership after its Energy Minister passionately insisted that former Prime Minister Khan was lying about his energy negotiations with Russia in spite of the official facts contradicting him.

The uncertainty about Pakistan’s grand strategic trajectory after its recent change of government and the credible concerns that its new leadership is preparing to decisively pivot towards the US contribute to the larger uncertainty about everything associated with Afghanistan right now. The overall situation is negative and there’s too much “fog of (hybrid) war” to confidently predict where everything is headed. Afghanistan’s internal insecurity, border tensions, and the potentially Pakistani-backed US military factor are combining to create yet another storm in the New Cold War that threatens to destabilize the region.

Russian-Pakistani Energy Cooperation: Separating Fact From Fiction

10 MAY 2022

Source

Incumbent Pakistani Energy Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan’s claims about his country’s energy cooperation with Russia contradict his predecessor Hammad Azhar’s. Quite clearly, only one of those two ministers is correct: either the incumbent one or his predecessor. In order to get to the bottom of figuring out which one it is, it’s important to share some facts about Russian-Pakistani energy cooperation.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s repeated claims that he was negotiating a deal to import energy from Russia at a 30% discount have become the center of that country’s latest scandal connected to his contentious ouster in early April. He believes that the no-confidence motion against him was part of a US-orchestrated regime change plot to punish him for his independent foreign policy, especially its Russian dimension, while the opposition insists that it was constitutional, legal, and was only due to his mismanagement of the economy. The former premier’s revelation about the alleged details connected to his purported negotiations with Russia challenges the pretext behind his ouster since the lack of progress on them since then suggests that economic issues weren’t the reason why he was removed.

New Pakistani Energy Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan was reported by Dawn to have said on Tuesday that “I also tell you clearly that the Imran Khan’s claim of buying oil and gas from Russia is absolutely false and baseless, as there is no paper / evidence available with the quarters concerned. Whatever they are claiming in this regard is just a lie.” That prompted his predecessor to tweet a letter that he sent to his Russian counterpart Nikolai Shulginov on 30 March thanking him for the hospitality that his delegation received during their latest visit to Moscow at the end of February where he wrote that “a wide range of issues on cooperation in Energy were discussed.” He then said that Pakistan wants to “fast-track” negotiations on the import of LNG as well as crude and diesel “on concessional terms”.

Former Minister Hammad Azhar also wrote in his tweet that “IK as PM chaired 2 meetings on the subject & we were aiming for purchasing first cargoes in April.” Quite clearly, only one of those two ministers is correct: either the incumbent one or his predecessor. In order to get to the bottom of figuring out which one it is, it’s important to share some facts about Russian-Pakistani energy cooperation. Minister Shulginov and Pakistani Ambassador to Russia Shafqat Ali Khan signed a document on 28 May 2021 enabling the start of construction on the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline in the near future according to TASS, a reputable Russian media outlet. In November, that Russian official and former Pakistani Minister for Economic Affairs Omar Ayub Khan discussed further energy cooperation.

According to TASS, Minister Shulginov said during the intergovernmental commission on trade that “We believe that today a decision has been made to move towards the start of the construction, and that there will be proposals from Novatek on LNG supplies.” Minister Ayub Khan was reported to have said in response to that proposal that “Two more private terminals will be required, there is no limit of intent here, so by all means, we are ready to discuss the construction of new terminals.” On the same day as former Minister Azhar’s scanned letter to his Russian counterpart, the Russian Foreign Ministry released a statement following Minister Sergey Lavrov’s discussion with his former Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehood Qureshi which adds further insight into the research question.

Per TASS’ report, “Readiness was expressed to build up the multidiscipline bilateral interaction. The increase of the trade turnover and implementation of a range of projects in the energy sphere, including construction of the Pakistan Stream gas pipeline, were identified as priority tasks.” This suggests that their discussions about projects in the energy sphere included the pipeline that was specified but weren’t exclusive to it. That’s a credible interpretation considering the press release that was shared by the Pakistani Embassy in Moscow’s official Facebook account following former Prime Minister Khan’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in late February where it was reported that “The two sides also discussed cooperation on prospective energy related projects”, thus hinting at other ones.

Less than a week before former Minister Azhar’s letter and the Russian Foreign Ministry’s statement, Express Tribune cited unnamed sources in their report on 24 March titled “Pakistan in talks with Russia for LNG imports”. According to this reputable Pakistani outlet, “Sources said the Pakistani government was interested to sign a government-to-government deal with Russia to import LNG to meet its growing gas demand. They added that Russia was developing the Yamal Project, which would be one of the largest LNG facilities in the world. Russia is also meeting the demand of Europe by exporting gas through a pipeline despite the opposition of the US. The sources said Pakistan LNG Limited was in talks with Russian firms Gazprom and Novatek to import the gas.”

Express Tribune also reported on some crucial details about these reported talks that grant further credence to their existence at the time. In their words, “Russia is too far away and Pakistan might face higher freight charges in comparison with LNG cargoes coming from Qatar. However, Russia might have the option to follow LNG cargo swap with other companies operating close to Pakistan that could result in cutting the freight charges.” Unless the journalist shared this information because they’re an industry expert and thought it relevant to inform their audience about, that possibility suggests that the outlet’s sources were where that scenario first emerged from. The report’s timing less than a week ahead of former Minister Azhar’s letter and the Russian Foreign Ministry’s statement might not be coincidental.

Considering all these objectively existing and easily verifiable facts connected to Russian-Pakistani energy cooperation under former Prime Minister Khan’s government, there’s every reason to believe that the ousted leader was indeed in talks with Russia on the import of discounted fuel for his energy-deficient country exactly as his Energy Minister claimed in the scanned document that he shared on Twitter. This casts doubt on incumbent Minister Dastgir Khan’s claim that “I also tell you clearly that the Imran Khan’s claim of buying oil and gas from Russia is absolutely false and baseless, as there is no paper / evidence available with the quarters concerned. Whatever they are claiming in this regard is just a lie.” Hopefully he’ll soon clarify his statement in light of the evidence that was just shared in this analysis.

By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Seems Like the US after Monkeying Around in Pakistan is Primed for a Relationship Reset

9 May 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen English

Shafei Moiz Hali 

The US’ swift moves and clear contrast instances unmistakably point at foul play in Khan’s ouster.

Seems Like the US after Monkeying Around in Pakistan is Primed for a Relationship Reset

In 2021, as the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan was planned, news of Pakistan and US discussions for the use of Pakistan’s airspace for counter-terrorism in Afghanistan post-US withdrawal started to surface. However, such news and rumors were put to rest in June 2021, during an interview of then-Prime Minister Imran Khan by Jonathan Swan from Axios on HBO. During the interview, Khan’s famous words “absolutely not” regarding the allowance of the CIA’s use of bases on Pakistani soil were not only a surprise for Jonathan Swan but also alarmed the decision-makers in Washington. The messy US withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021 spawned tremendous criticism from global media, which termed the US’ two-decades-long campaign in Afghanistan as a failure. The failure scrambled the US officials to search for a scapegoat, which led to blaming Pakistan for its role in undermining the war effort, and Pakistan’s efforts for bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table in 2019 and 2020 and also in aiding the US coalition forces in their exit from Afghanistan did not receive any acknowledgment. Such cold behavior from the US officials left the Pakistan government weary and critical of the US as a strategic partner. The Pakistani government started thinking regionally and multilaterally to secure the country’s interests, and this directed Imran Khan’s government toward Russia.

Khan visited Russia from 23-24 February 2022, and it was during this official state visit that Russia’s operation in Ukraine began. Following Khan’s Moscow visit, Pakistan was amongst 35 nations that abstained from voting at the UN against Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Such steps taken by Imran Khan’s government irked the US officials, and surprisingly, 44 days after Imran Khan’s Moscow visit, he was voted out of government. The public in Pakistan is baffled and aghast by Imran Khan’s ouster as he is the same Prime Minister who is credited for reducing the country’s external debt to GDP ratio from 31.6% to 28.5% and is also credited with successfully steering the country out of the COVID-19 pandemic, which was also praised internationally and by the World Health Organization. The Economist’s normalcy index ranked Pakistan among the top three countries that handled the pandemic well. Khan’s strongman style of governance and anti-corruption drive were responsible for making enemies at home, and it is speculated that the same were used as tools for Khan’s removal.

A few days before Khan’s removal from office, on March 27, Mr. Khan addressed a public rally and spoke about foreign conspiracies hatched to knock down his government. In subsequent days, he revealed that the foreign country behind the conspiracy is the United States. Khan had received a diplomatic cable from Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Asad Majeed, in which the latter informed him of a peculiar meeting with Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Affairs Donald Lu, and the US’ annoyance with Mr. Khan’s ‘independent foreign policy’ and visit to Moscow, warning him against repercussions at the level of the Pak-US relations.

The US is known to have orchestrated regime changes across the world. Some examples from contemporary history comprise: March-1949 Syrian coup d’état and 2012 to present attempts at regime change in Syria; 1953-Iranian coup d’état and 2005 to present; 1954-Guatemalan coup d’état; CIA’s Tibetan Program (although it failed, the Dalai Lama and Tibetan insurgents in Nepal continue to receive subsidies); 1956-58 US meddling in Indonesia; 1959-Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba;1960-1963 interference in Iraq, later in 1992-96 and the 2003 invasion; 1960-65 Congo Crisis engineered by the US; 1961 regime change in the Dominican Republic; 1963 CIA-backed coup in South Vietnam; 1964-Brazilian coup d’état; 1966 military coup in Ghana; 1973 Chilean coup d’état; 1976 Argentine coup d’état; 1979-89 interference in Afghanistan; 1980 Turkish coup d’état; Poland 1980-89; Nicaragua 1981-90; Venezuela 2002 coup d’état attempt; Somalia 2006-7; Arab Spring 2010-2011; 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.

The series of events leading up to PM Imran Khan’s removal from office seems like a page out of the CIA’s book of regime changes. Most of the above examples of US interventions start with the identification of local opposition leaders whose loyalties can be bought. Then these leaders in the opposition are funded to spread propaganda and mobilize protests and unrest within the country; making people lose faith in the government. Later, these same leaders are supplied with money to buy out people from the government and state institutions to further weaken the government until it is toppled. The resemblance is uncanny between what happened with Khan and the CIA’s actions in other countries for regime changes.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, some analysts believe that there was no foreign hand in Khan’s ouster; rather, his removal has been due to his failed economic policies and other unpopular domestic political actions. The same analysts state that Khan is using the US conspiracy theory as a political ploy to save face and garner public support for re-election. In order to check whether foreign intervention played a role in Khan’s ouster, a simple test can be run by comparing the Biden administration’s stance toward Pakistan during Khan’s government and after Khan’s government.

During Khan’s government, Pakistan sought economic cooperation rather than security cooperation with the US, which is why Imran Khan categorically refused to discuss options for offering military bases to the CIA in Pakistan. In response, the Biden administration rejected Pakistan’s proposals for economic cooperation. It has been less than a month since the new government in Pakistan has assumed responsibilities and on May 4, 2022, the US State Department during its press briefing hinted at Pak-US counter-terrorism assistance and cross-border security vis-à-vis Afghanistan. On May 6, the newly appointed Foreign Minister of Pakistan Mr. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari received a congratulatory call from Secretary of State Antony Blinken who agreed with his Pakistani counterpart that engagement with mutual respect was the way forward for both countries. There is a striking difference between the US stance in Blinken’s phone call and the diplomatic cable received by Khan’s government.  In the coming days, more is expected to happen as the new Foreign Minister of Pakistan has received an invitation to visit the United States to attend a Global Food Security Meeting this month. Such swift moves and clear contrast instances unmistakably point at foul play in Khan’s ouster.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

The Removal Of Imran Khan and the Popular Push Back. How Pakistan Helped Foster “The War on Terrorism”

May 07, 2022

Global Research,

By Michael WelchJunaid S. Ahmad, and Prof Michel Chossudovsky

All Global Research articles can be read in 51 languages by activating the Translate Website” drop down menu on the top banner of our home page (Desktop version).

Visit and follow us on Instagram at @crg_globalresearch.

***

“I am saying to you today, that for the first time, Pakistan’s policies won’t be for the few rich people, it will be for the poor, for our women, for our minorities, whose rights are not respected. My whole aim will be to protect our lower classes and to bring them up.”

–  Imran Khan, 2018 election campaign speech [1]

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In the early hours of April 9, the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, faced a no-confidence motion in the country’s National Assembly resulting in his removal from power. This was the first time ever that an official of his stature was removed in such a manner. [2]

What makes this move so geopolitically significant was the unique significance of this state as a square on the tabletop of the grand chessboard between the United States, and Russia and China.

On the one hand, Pakistan has traditionally used the country’s military and the intelligence services, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), as partners. Over the course of the last twenty years, the Islamic State was a leading local site from which to launch air and ground operations in favor of America’s War on Terrorism. And as Michel Chossudovsky wrote back at the time of the infamous September 11th terrorist attacks, the ISI played a key role in acting as a “go-between” between the CIA and the Islamic jihadists in Afghanistan going back to 1979. This would in large part lead to the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union. [3][4]

On the other hand, Pakistan has gained partners both in Russia and in China. There was a vital 1100km gas pipeline project between Lahore and Karachi in which the goods would be provided from Russia. And in November of 2014, Russia and Pakistan signed a defense cooperation pact followed by a military-technical cooperation agreement all of which would serve toward “Strengthening of mutual trust and international security, counter-terrorist and arms control activities.” [5][6][7]

And then there was China’s “One Belt One Road” initiative, which would ultimately help undermine dependence on the Strait of Malacca and building a conduit between China and West Asia and the Middle East. [8]

These alliances have been tightening under the new leader Khan. On the same night Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized the Ukraine intervention, Khan had been meeting with him to discuss a wide variety of subjects including economic and energy cooperation. He did not announce a formal disapproval of the intervention in Ukraine then, nor did he do it when he returned home. [9][10]

Did Khan then cross the rubicon and slot himself in the bad books of Washington? Maybe it’s a coincidence, but in the lead-up to the National Assembly vote of no confidence, Prime Minister Khan cited the following quote of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu as evidence the U.S. was behind this move:

“If Prime Minister Imran Khan remained in office, then Pakistan will be isolated from the United States and we will take the issue head on; but if the vote of no-confidence succeeds, all will be forgiven.” [11]

Was this yet another plot of regime change by the United States? And how would the people coming out in unprecedented number in support of their removed Prime Minister prevail in his return to power? We will examine these questions on this edition of the Global Research News Hour.

In Part One of our series, we will talk to Professor Junaid Ahmad, who has a background in Pakistan about the details of the coup, the reasons for Khan to go, and the resulting push back from the people of Pakistan. And in our second half hour, we present a repeat broadcast from October of 2012 of an interview with Professor Michel Chossudovsky, founder/director of the Centre for Research on Globalization. His talk mostly deals with Afghanistan and 9/11, although he touches also on Pakistan’s then pivotal role in the military-intelligent quagmire surrounding the whole affair.

Junaid S. Ahmad teaches Religion, Law, and Politics and is the Director of the Center for the Study of Islam and Decoloniality. He is a regular contributor to Global Research.

Michel Chossudovsky is the author of thirteen books including The Globalization of War: America’s Long War Against Humanity (2015), and the international best America’s “War on Terrorism”  Second Edition (2005). He is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Center for Research on Globalization. 

(Global Research News Hour Episode 354)

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Notes:

  1. ‘Imran Khan’s speech in full’ (July 26, 2018), Al Jazeera;https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/7/26/imran-khans-speech-in-full
  2. No-Trust Motion: Imran Khan Becomes First Prime Minister To Be Voted Out Of Power (April 10, 2022), The Nation; https://nation.com.pk/2022/04/10/no-trust-motion-imran-khan-becomes-first-prime-minister-to-be-voted-out-of-pow/
  3. https://asiatimes.com/2021/05/pakistan-leans-towards-giving-us-military-bases/
  4. https://www.globalresearch.ca/september-11-2001-the-crimes-of-war-committed-in-the-name-of-911/5311561
  5. https://cscr.pk/explore/themes/trade-economics/pakistan-russia-china-emerging-coalition/
  6. https://www.ilaan.com/news/gas-pipelines-to-be-laid-from-lahore-to-karachi
  7. https://dsm.forecastinternational.com/wordpress/2019/05/03/russia-and-pakistan-a-new-arms-deal-on-the-horizon/
  8. https://cscr.pk/explore/themes/trade-economics/pakistan-russia-china-emerging-coalition/
  9. https://www.gulftoday.ae/news/2022/02/24/pakistan-prime-minister-imran-khan-in-russia-to-meet-putin
  10. https://www.globalresearch.ca/regime-change-islamabad/5776219
  11. https://www.globalresearch.ca/pakistan-pivot-russia-ouster-imran-khan/5777970?utm_campaign=magnet&utm_source=article_page&utm_medium=related_articles

The original source of this article is Global Research

Copyright © Michael WelchJunaid S. Ahmad, and Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2022

Sino-Pakistan relationship: A challenge for the new Pakistani government

6 May 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen English

Ruqiya Anwar 

Perhaps no other country in the region has seen China’s footprint grow more than Pakistan.

Sino-Pakistan Relationship: A challenge for New Pakistani Government

China’s interest in South Asia has grown dramatically in recent years, encompassing geostrategic and security objectives and economic and development projects. Perhaps no other country in the region has seen China’s footprint grow more than Pakistan.

After Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was dismissed from office by a historic no-confidence motion amid a significant political crisis in the South Asian country, China stressed that relations with Pakistan are unlikely to be harmed. According to the Chinese foreign ministry, China has been keeping a careful eye on the political situation in Pakistan. “As Pakistan’s close neighbor and staunch ally, China hopes that all groups in Pakistan remain together and work together to ensure the country’s general stability and development. Therefore, China would stick to its favorable stance toward Pakistan.” 

At the same time, security concerns in Pakistan will put the partnership’s strength to the test in the coming years. However, if the country’s internal security deteriorates or Chinese concerns about its political direction deepen, it will be a huge missed opportunity. Recently, three Chinese nationals were killed in a suicide attack in Pakistan. The director of the Confucius Institute, a Chinese government-run entity that conducts language and cultural programs worldwide, and two other faculty members in Pakistan were among the deceased, posing a challenge for Pakistan’s new government as it attempts to improve relations with China. On the other hand, the Pakistani government promptly stated that those responsible would be found and punished.

One of Pakistan’s most important military and economic assistance sources is China. This support from a major state is significant for Islamabad, which does not have many powerful allies. Moreover, Pakistan also hopes that Chinese initiatives will assist it in modernizing and transforming its economy while somehow keeping India in check.

Furthermore, as the geopolitical competition with the US increases and alliances form to confront China’s growing assertiveness both in the region and beyond, Islamabad is likely to remain a crucial strategic partner for China. One of the major beneficiaries of China’s rise as a global power should be Pakistan. However, the US has constantly tried to sabotage or disrupt China-Pakistan relations, particularly the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and China’s proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Khan’s government had tight relations with the US, particularly following his February travel to Russia, which the US saw as a clear signal of taking sides in the Ukraine issue between the US and Russia. Khan has previously claimed that the US was behind efforts to depose him because he had visited Moscow in February. China has never intervened like the US in other countries’ internal affairs: China and Pakistan can have an all-weather strategic cooperative partnership because China treats all parties that come to power equally and stays out of their internal affairs.

Relations with Beijing have only grown more significant as China’s investments in Pakistan have increased, particularly since establishing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which connects Pakistani ports to Chinese transportation networks.

Notably, the new Pakistani prime minister stated that the everlasting Pak-China friendship is firmly ingrained in the hearts of the two countries’ people and that Pakistan sees China as its best friend and values its strong friendship with the Chinese people. Pakistan and China have always stood by one other and worked together for mutual benefit, providing a positive example for international relations.

Most importantly, the new Pakistani government is willing to deepen bilateral cooperation in agriculture, science and technology, education, and poverty alleviation and accelerate the CPEC’s construction with more vigor and efficiency to benefit both countries and peoples.

Significantly, cooperation between China and Pakistan in counterterrorism and the fight against the coronavirus is critical for Pakistan to overcome its current challenges. This means China is the country’s most dependable, trustworthy, powerful, and irreplaceable partner. Moreover, China adheres to the concept of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. Therefore, no matter how the international scene and their respective domestic situations evolve, China-Pakistan relations have always been unshakeable and rock-solid, as history has repeatedly demonstrated.

According to Chinese and Pakistani analysts, China-Pakistan relations will not be influenced by Pakistan’s internal political changes because safeguarding and developing bilateral relationships is a collective consensus of all parties and groups in Pakistan. Experts from both China and Pakistan are optimistic about the future of China-Pakistan relations, believing that the new government will respect the country’s long-standing history of safeguarding the country’s friendship with China and all China-Pakistan cooperation projects. China looks forward to working closely with the new Pakistani government to maintain historic friendships, improve strategic communication, progress the CPEC, and establish a closer China-Pakistan community with a common vision in the 21st century (CGTN, 2020). Pakistan’s current political troubles have nothing to do with the country’s strong connections with China. Thus collaboration between the two countries will be unaffected.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

Terror from Balochistan: a menacing tool to disrupt Sino-Pakistani economics

A Baloch suicide bombing targeting Chinese workers in Karachi comes a mere month after the US-backed ousting of PM Imran Khan. Pakistan is a critical BRI hub in Beijing’s vast Eurasian connectivity project, and it looks like CPEC is the ultimate target of this disruption.

May 05 2022

Balochistan can only benefit from Chinese infrastructure investment in the immensely impoverished Pakistani province. But an uptick in attacks on Chinese workers by militant separatists suggests that external agendas may be in play. Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Pepe Escobar

This is the concise story of how a suicide bombing may carry the potential to subvert the whole, ongoing, complex process of Eurasia integration.

Recently, the Balochistan Liberation Movement (BLA) had released an ISIS-influenced video threatening “Chinese officials and installations” in Pakistan’s vast province.

Yet what actually happened in late April was a suicide bombing outside of the University of Karachi’s Confucius Institute – not Balochistan – and targeting Chinese teachers, not “officials and installations.”

The suicide bomber was a woman, Shaari Baloch, alias Bramsh, who detonated her vest just as a van carrying Institute staff members approached the entrance. The attack was claimed by the BLA’s Majeed Brigade, which stressed that this was the first time they used a female suicide bomber.

Shaari Baloch was a schoolteacher with a Zoology degree, enrolled to pursue a second Master’s degree, married to a dentist and professor at Makran Medical College in her hometown of Turbat, in southern Balochistan. Her three brothers include a doctor, a deputy director at a government-funded project, and a civil servant. So Shaari Baloch was far from being a mere destitute online-indoctrinated Salafi-jihadi.

The Pakistani Foreign Office had to stress the obvious: this was a “direct attack on the Pakistan-China friendship and ongoing cooperation,” always qualified, by both sides, as “iron brothers.” Pakistan is an absolutely key node of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to connect the Eurasian landmass.

This was no standard terrorist attack. Its reverberations are immense – not only in one of Pakistan’s provinces and South Asia regionally, but for the whole of Eurasia. It may be a harbinger of serious turbulence ahead.

Shaari Baloch’s act of desperation should be seen, to start with, as the embodiment of a deep-seated Baloch alienation felt by the educated middle classes, from lawyers and traders to students, constantly permeating the complex relationship with a distant Islamabad. A significant part of the puzzle is that 26 Pakistani intel agencies never saw it coming.

Baloch leaders instantly made the point that the best possible reaction would be to call a Grand Jirga – modeled on the Shahi Jirga practiced at the time of the partition of the subcontinent – that would unite all tribal elders to address the most pressing local grievances.

Round up the usual suspects

Balochistan, geostrategically, is as valuable as rare earth minerals: an immense desert positioned east of Iran, south of Afghanistan, and boasting three Arabian Sea ports, including Gwadar, practically at the mouth of the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

Comprising nearly 48 percent of Pakistan’s area, Balochistan is rich in uranium and copper, potentially very rich in oil, produces more than one-third of Pakistan’s natural gas, and sparsely populated. The Baloch account for the majority of the population, followed by Pashtuns. Quetta, the large provincial capital, for years was considered Taliban Central by the Pentagon.

Gwadar, the port built by China on the southwestern Balochistan coast of the Arabian Sea – directly across from Oman – is the absolute key node of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and doubles as the essential link in a never-ending pipeline saga. The Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline, previously known as the “peace pipeline,” with plans to cross from Iranian to Pakistani Balochistan (India still has not made up its mind) is absolute anathema to Washington since the George W. Bush era.

CPEC remains an endless source of controversy even inside Pakistan. Beyond all the links planned between Gwadar and Xinjiang by the year 2030, most of this ambitious connectivity corridor deals with energy, industrial zones and road and rail projects in different parts of the country – an overall improvement of its lagging infrastructure. The Chinese, for years, have quipped that in fact “all of Pakistan is a corridor.”

The US security establishment, predictably, has been planning for years to instrumentalize an insurgency in Balochistan to – what else – “disrupt” first the possibility of an energy pipeline from Gwadar to Xinjiang, and then the overall CPEC project. Usual suspects like the US’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) are very much present in Balochistan. WikiLeaks had revealed a great deal of the game back in 2015.

A Carnegie Institute report noted how “many Baloch nationalist leaders now come from the urbanized districts of Kech, Panjgur, and Gwadar (and to a lesser extent from Quetta, Khuzdar, Turbat, Kharan, and Lasbela). They are well connected to Karachi and Gulf cities, where tribal structures are non-existent. In fact, while there is violence all over the province, the insurgency seems to concentrate mainly in these urbanized areas.”

Suicide bomber Shaari Baloch came from Turbat, the province’s second largest city, where the BLA is very much active. From the point of view of the usual suspects, these are choice assets, especially after the death of important tribal leaders such as Akbar Bugti. The report duly noted how “the educated and middle-class Baloch youth are in the forefront” of the insurgency.

The anti-China instrumentalization of the BLA also ties in with the regime-change parliament operation in Islamabad that recently deposed former prime minister Imran Khan, who was always a fierce adversary of the American “Forever War” in Afghanistan. Khan resolutely denied Pakistan’s use in “over the horizon” US military ops: that was one of the key reasons for him to be ousted.

Now, with a pliant, Washington-approved, new regime in town, a miracle has just happened: the Pentagon is about to clinch a formal agreement with Islamabad to use Pakistani airspace to – what else – keep interfering in Afghanistan.

Beijing, as well as other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), won’t be amused. Only weeks before the white coup, Khan had met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and once again underscored how Pakistan and China are “iron brothers.”

Imran Khan was a serious thorn in the side of the west because he kept impressing on Pakistanis that the Forever War in Afghanistan was militarily unwinnable. He knew how all the proxies – including the BLA – that destabilized both Afghanistan and Pakistan for decades were, and continue to be, part of US covert operations.

Not an Iran-India plot

Balochistan is as deeply tribal as the Pashtun tribal areas. Local tribal chiefs can be as ultra-conservative as Islamabad is neglectful (and they are not exactly paragons of human rights either). Most tribes though bow to Islamabad’s authority – except, first and foremost, the Bugti.

And then there’s the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), which both Washington and London used to brand as a terrorist group, and then forgot about it. The BLA operated for years out of Kandahar in Afghanistan (only two hours away from Quetta), and already in the previous decade – simultaneous to the announcement of the New Silk Roads and CPEC – stressed it was getting ready to attack non-Balochis (code for the government in Islamabad as well as Chinese foreigners).

Balochis are inclined to consider the BLA as a resistance group. But Islamabad has always denied it, saying their support is not beyond 10 percent of the provincial population.

An ample controversy has raged in Pakistan for years on whether the BLA was totally hijacked by the CIA, the MI6 and the Mossad. During a 2006 visit to Iran, I was prevented from going to the Sistan-Balochistan province in southeast Iran because, according to Tehran’s version, infiltrated CIA from Pakistani Balochistan were involved in covert, cross-border attacks. It was no secret to anyone in the region that since 9/11 the US virtually controlled the Baloch air bases in Dalbandin and Panjgur.

In October 2001, while waiting for an opening to cross to Kandahar from Quetta, I spent quite some time with a number of BLA associates and sympathizers. They described themselves as “progressive, nationalist, anti-imperialist” (and that would make them difficult to be co-opted by the US). They were heavily critical of “Punjabi chauvinism,” and always insisted the region’s resources belong to Balochis first; that was their rationale for attacks on gas pipelines.

Stressing an atrocious, provincial literacy rate of only 16 percent (“It’s government policy to keep Balochistan backward”), they resented the fact that most people still lacked drinking water. They claimed support from at least 70 percent of the Baloch population (“Whenever the BLA fires a rocket, it’s the talk of the bazaars”). They also claimed to be united, and in coordination with Iranian Balochis. And they insisted that “Pakistan had turned Balochistan into a US cantonment, which affected a lot the relationship between the Afghan and Baloch peoples.”

Two decades later, and after the whole ISIS saga in Syria and Iraq, it’s a completely different story. BLA sympathizers may still be prepared to remain within a Pakistani confederation, although with infinitely more autonomy. But now they seem to be willing to use western imperial help to strike not only at the central government in Islamabad, but also at the “near abroad” foreign profiteer (China).

After the Karachi suicide bombing, a narrative started to emerge in some Pakistani circles that Iran and India were in cahoots to destabilize Balochistan.

That makes absolutely no sense. Both Tehran and Islamabad are tightly linked to Beijing through several nodes of the New Silk Roads. Iran would draw less than zero benefit to collude with India to destabilize an area that borders Afghanistan, especially when the SCO is fully engaged in incorporating Kabul into the Eurasia integration process. Moreover, the IPI has its best chances ever to come to fruition in the near future, consolidating an umbilical cord from Southwest Asia to South Asia.

During the late years of Barack Obama’s administration, the BLA, though still a fringe group with a political wing and a military wing, was regrouping and rearming, while the chief minister of Balochistan, Nawab Raisani, was suspected of being a CIA asset (there was no conclusive proof).

Already at the time, the fear in Islamabad was that the government had taken its eye off the Balochistan ball – and that the BLA was about to be effectively used by the US for balkanization purposes. That seems to be the picture right now. Yet the heart of the matter – glaringly expressed by the Karachi suicide bombing – is that Islamabad still remains impervious to the key Baloch grievance: we want to profit from our natural wealth, and we want autonomy.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Twitter Shouldn’t Tolerate Mainstream Media Journalists Glorifying Terrorism

29 APRIL 2022

Source

By Andrew Korykbo

Siddiqui is a perfect example of what the US-led West truly thinks about terrorists in Pakistan. While their governments sometimes talk tough about them for political reasons, they secretly support their crimes whenever they target Chinese.

Twitter is known for its contentious moderation policies, but perhaps none are more controversial than its tolerance of Mainstream Media (MSM) journalists who glorify terrorism. Taha Siddiqui is one such journalist who just engaged in that shocking act on this platform earlier in the week. He describes himself on his account as a “Pakistani in exile” who’s reported for the New York Times, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, and France 24. Accordingly, Twitter verified his account by giving him a blue check.

What he just did, however, should arguably get his account deactivated. Siddiqui went on a tweetstorm glorifying the suicide bomber who just blew up three Chinese teachers and their Pakistani driver in Karachi. Regardless of one’s position towards those separatists’ political cause, there’s never any justification for killing innocent people nor in blowing oneself up in order to do so. The female killer was a bonafide terrorist whose crime would have been universally condemned had she done it in the West.

Because she only killed Chinese and a Pakistani in Karachi, however, Siddiqui is able to glorify this suicide bomber with impunity. His partnership with the MSM, self-description as a “Pakistani in exile”, and blue check all mean that he’s untouchable by the platform. Siddiqui is a perfect example of what the US-led West truly thinks about terrorists in Pakistan. While their governments sometimes talk tough about them for political reasons, they secretly support their crimes whenever they target Chinese.

The “Balochistan Liberation Army” (BLA) that Siddiqui glorified in his tweetstorm was designated by the US as a terrorist group in 2019. Twitter is based in the US and must therefore comply with American law. It’s therefore of contentious legality for this platform to continue hosting Siddiqui’s tweetstorm. They’re arguably violating their own moderation policies and American law by keeping it up, though it’s unclear whether they’ll ultimately take it down, not to mention whether they’ll deplatform him as punishment.

One can only imagine the reaction if a Russian, Chinese, or Iranian journalist glorified a US-designated terrorist group that just carried out a suicide bombing attack in a Western country’s largest city. Not only would they be promptly deplatformed, but the MSM would turn their tweetstorm into a global scandal. They’d probably also speculate that the journalist in question was reflecting their homeland’s tacit support of whatever terrorist group it might be.

Nobody should expect that to happen with Siddiqui, however, since his tweetstorm reflects the West’s tacit support of the BLA’s anti-Chinese terrorist attacks. Twitter’s punishment of him would be the legally and morally right thing to do but the company remains close to the US’ permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) so it’s unlikely to do so unless activists across the world succeed in turning this into a global scandal.

Absent that scenario, the platform will likely keep Siddiqui’s tweetstorm up since it embodies the West’s undeclared support for the BLA’s Hybrid War on CPEC. Elon Musk, who just purchased Twitter, might even defend his new company’s decision if publicly challenged to do so as evidence of its support for free speech. The reality, however, is that Siddiqui’s tweetstorm is nothing but propaganda in support of a US-designated terrorist organization. It only remains up because of the West’s selective standards.

America’s Whoops Apocalypse Is Just Not Cricket

By Declan Hayes

Source

NATO’s perpetual wars are hell, for those whose lives they destroy, and an abomination that must be ended for the rest of us.

The United States’ recent sanctioning of leading members of Ireland’s Kinahan Organized Crime Gang (KOCG), Europe’s most successful criminal mobsters, offers global insights into the tangled webs of deceit that underwrite America’s own global criminal empire. Not only are KOCG major players in the global heroin market but they are also amongst professional boxing’s major promoters through their links with Bahrain’s Royal Family and their own Dubai HQ, where disgraced former Irish President and UN HRC Mary Robinson has emerged as a passionate defender of that country’s appalling human rights’ record.

As the KOCG have also been sports washing their illicit gains in Saudi Arabia, a country whose dismal human rights’ record is, like its Yemeni genocide campaign, impervious to American opprobrium the plot, as they say, thickens. And widens to include other oil rich countries like Qatar, which is hosting this year’s World Cup to sports wash their own disgusting human rights’ track record.

Whereas football and boxing are washing criminals whiter than white, cricket, if Pakistan’s Imran Khan is our metric, is not stepping up to NATO’s plate. From a sporting point of view, that is odd as India and Pakistan do not have sporting heroes; they have cricketing gods, such is their fanaticism to that sport of Empire. And cricket gods do not come any bigger in Pakistan than Imran Khan, its recently deposed Premier, who famously led Pakistan to its first and only cricket World Cup triumph in 1992.

America’s Imran Khan dilemma is straight out of an Indian Bollywood movie. Khan, the protagonist (or antagonist if you are an American stooge), is an Oxbridge educated cricketing maestro, who is universally revered in Pakistan because of his cricketing prowess, his movie-star looks, his philanthropy, his honesty and his patriotism, all of which have helped him forge mutually beneficial relations between Pakistan and India, China and Russia. Khan overcame both Pakistan’s COVID-19 crisis and its institutionalized corruption, all while forging closer alliances with Beijing and Moscow, solidifying the Afghan peace process, and building up Pakistan’s foreign reserves to almost $20 billion. Khan, it seems, was a better politician than he was a cricketer and that is really saying something.

Although an Imran Khan blockbuster would be a Bollywood home run, the entire CIA apparatus has transformed this hero into a Hollywood cut out villain, up there with Dracula, Asma Assad and Putin. The problem, as ever, for the CIA, is that Shazbah Sharif, their money laundering Pakistani puppet, is regarded by all sentient Pakistanis as being as corrupt as any of Zelensky’s Ukrainian oligarchs. Because Pakistan, no stranger to massive protests, has never before seen anything like the huge crowds protesting in favor of Khan, the Yanks are in a pickle.

And not just in Pakistan. The Solomon Islanders are no longer content in their South Pacific Paradise. As they would like the Yanks to get off their backs and the Chinese to help evict them, there is trouble brewing in Paradise. Although it is probably nothing a few divisions of kick ass U.S. Marines cannot handle, the world is unravelling, much as it did in the Whoops Apocalypse sitcom, which was written shortly after Iran gave the American imposed Shah his marching orders. America’s whack-a-mole policy has run out of road, as there are too many moles and not enough USMC bats to beat them down with.

That said, Russian President Putin remains America’s preferred nemesis and The White House, in true Tinseltown form, has made a yet bigger fool of itself by christening the West’s rampant inflation Putin’s Price Hike, as if the Russian government is somehow forcing Western price gougers to boycott Russia and up their prices. The World Wide Wrestling Federation will soon acquire a Russian villain to play Putin’s part, complete, perhaps, with a pet polar bear instead of the sanctioned white Russian cats James Bond villains usually prefer.

Though Tinseltown’s show must go on, Putin and Khan will be nowhere near the podium when the Oscars and Nobel Peace Prizes are next doled out. Though Ukrainian comedian Zelensky should make a clean sweep of all the major trophies, fascist enablers like Łarysa Anatolijiwna Heraśko, Ukraine’s current Ambassador to Ireland, deserve to scoop up some of the smaller prizes. Having cut her diplomatic teeth at Ukraine’s Embassy in Canada and then as Consul General in Chicago, she has no doubt been thoroughly indoctrinated in Ukraine’s current Bandera doctrine, much of which was first drafted in The Windy City and amongst Ukrainian Nazi expats in Canada who, likewise, have earned their fascistic spurs.

Whatever about Chicago, Heraśko has been an unmitigated disaster and an unprecedented disgrace to the world’s diplomatic corps since landing in Ireland. She has not only led fascist mobs outside the Russian Embassy and onto Dublin’s main thoroughfare but she has also called for the arrest and expulsion of Russian and Irish peace campaigners for peacefully expressing their views at rallies that impinged on nobody. Not only is she thereby violating the Irish Constitution which guarantees the right of peaceful assembly but she is violating both the spirit and the code of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, not only in her criminally ignorant attacks on Russia’s Irish delegation but on her public attacks on Irish neutrality, which is not in her purview or in that of any other American diplomatic flunkey. And nor should she, as the state controlled BBC attest, be violating Irish law by recruiting Irish mercenaries to commit crimes in Ukraine; this criminal enabler should, instead, be booted back to Mariupol where the Azovs are badly in need of more bodies like hers to stave off their inevitable defeat.

Although NATO need over-paid puppets like Heraśko to co-ordinate the intimidation of those peaceful protesters the Saudi fundedISIS affiliated VICE network and Bill & Melinda Gates’ funded The Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) gather intelligence on, ordinary people, who are paying at the gas pump in the West and elsewhere with their lives, do not need these grubby Grim Reapers.

NATO’s perpetual wars are not some stupid Hollywood Reality TV diversion for criminal Irish, American, Pakistani and Ukrainian oligarchs to feed off. They are hell, for those whose lives they destroy, and an abomination that must be ended for the rest of us. If night is darkest just before the dawn, then there just might be rays of hope emerging from Pakistan, the Solomon Islands and Ukraine.

Whatever about Hollywood’s razzle-dazzle not fooling all of the people all of the time, even the Romans found to their cost that you cannot perpetually opiate the masses with bread and circuses. Those halcyon, American privileged days of The Captains and The Kings are gone. Now that the final stumps are being drawn, NATO have no hope of forever silencing Imran Khan and his tens of millions of followers, the Solomon Islanders or the rest of us who see the sleight of hand involved in slapping Syrian-style sanctions, instead of RICO laws on the KOCG, whose crimes, despicable as they are, pale in comparison to those of NATO, America’s own Murder Inc.

Those are the words of Major General Smedley Butler, America’s most decorated soldier, as opined in his War is a Racket opus. Though NATO’s ongoing wars are an ongoing racket and linking KOCG to sanctions instead of RICO is part of NATO’s attempt to criminalize its Russian opponents, far too many people, with the armies of Russia and China in the van, are seeing through it and rejecting it. NATO best pick up their balls and their bats from their overseas bases and take them, together with their Zelenskys, their Heraśkos and their diversionary KOCG smokescreens, and head back to Beltway’s Tinseltown. Their game is up, the sanctioned cats are out of the bag and there is no way on God’s earth NATO can ever again control their multiple home and away fronts.

And so, as the Americans play out their two and four year electoral cycles and as they scour the world for fresh Pakistanis and Pacific Islanders to bully, they best realise the world is leaving them and their electoral parlor games behind, and that leaders of the calibre of Imran Khan are bringing into play a new multi polar world order, where Syria, Yemen, Iran, Pakistan and the Solomon Islands will be shown the respect they deserve. Au revoir America. The world’s Imran Khans have bowled you and your criminal henchmen all out.

Analyzing The Significance Of Imran Khan’s Record-Shattering Twitter Spaces Session

21 APRIL 2022

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By Andrew Korybko

From the perspective of a well-intended outsider who’s closely studied Pakistan’s specific national security challenges, it is indeed the case that the greatest casualty of recent events is the partial loss of trust in the official national security narrative since the country’s officials didn’t present a unified front related to the latest such threat that the former Prime Minister claimed was in motion. These developments are unique in Pakistan’s history and further exacerbate the divide between the population’s respective interpretations of recent events and their relation to national security.

The greatest casualty of recent events in Pakistan, irrespective of whether one regards them as a US-orchestrated regime change or a proud display of constitutional integrity, is the partial loss of trust in the official national security narrative. Leaders come and go, some heroically and others shamefully, but national security is supposed to be enduring, especially in a country that’s as seriously afflicted by such threats as Pakistan is. Its leadership and military-intelligence structures, collectively described as The Establishment in Pakistani parlance, used to have the complete trust of their people whenever they’d inform them of a threat to national security, but that’s regrettably no longer the case right now.

Those who interpret recent events as a US-orchestrated regime change are extremely concerned that The Establishment didn’t intervene to thwart this process by potentially postponing the opposition’s no-confidence motion until a comprehensive investigation could be completed to reassure the public about everything. Meanwhile, those who interpret these same events as a proud display of constitutional integrity are aghast what they believe was the previous Prime Minister’s exploitation of national security narratives for self-serving political reasons in order to cling to power against all odds. There is no middle ground: someone either believes one or the other, and both interpretations appear to be irreconcilable.

This poses a truly unprecedented dilemma for The Establishment since never before has the population been so polarized about the official national security narrative. After all, the country’s prior leader made very dramatic accusations that were backed up by members of his government such as his Foreign Minister. He even held a meeting of the National Security Council to discuss the alleged regime change threat that he later revealed was orchestrated by the US as punishment for his independent foreign policy. Pakistanis had hitherto been taught to always take their leaders’ warnings about national security for granted and to never doubt them due to the severity of such threats to their country.

Everyone of course has the right to personally be skeptical about whatever it is that they’re being told, but those who believed the former Prime Minister were reacting exactly as The Establishment had taught them to over the years. Society was already well aware of Hybrid War threats due to their military-intelligence structures’ public awareness campaigns to inform them about the multidimensional forms that they could take. Considering Pakistan’s troubled history of ties with the US and the latter’s documented history of carrying out regime changes across the world through very creative means, it was certainly believable that their former leader was telling the truth. They had no reason to doubt him.

The former Deputy Speaker’s decision to dismiss the opposition’s no-confidence motion on that basis therefore made complete sense to them, who assumed that The Establishment tacitly approved of that happening since they thought that it shared the former Prime Minister’s national security concerns about this scandal. The Supreme Court’s ruling that this was unconstitutional, however, surprised those who were taught to take their leaders’ national security warnings for granted and to never question them since everyone was previously informed that sometimes the average person doesn’t have all the information needed to accurately assess such threats, especially if this information remains classified.

It was therefore with complete shock that these same people then witnessed the sequence of events that followed whereby the former Prime Minister was ultimately removed through the same no-confidence motion that his own government described as playing into the hands of the US’ regime change plot against Pakistan. Similarly shocking to them was that The Establishment didn’t intervene to stop this from happening, which suggested one of two mutually exclusive conclusions: high-ranking members within it associated with this institution’s pro-US school of thought were part of this plot or their former Prime Minister exploited their trust and lied to them for self-serving political reasons.

From the opposite side, those who were always against the former Prime Minister never personally trusted him but for whatever reason went against what The Establishment had hitherto taught them about taking their leaders’ national security warnings for granted. They publicly expressed not just skepticism, but even condemned it as a lie. According to the social standards that were widely assumed to have been in place prior to last weekend’s events, these individuals could have been described as defying The Establishment and potentially even endangering national security, but their narrative now seems credible to some since that same institution didn’t intervene to stop that scandalous process.  

From the perspective of a well-intended outsider who’s closely studied Pakistan’s specific national security challenges, it is indeed the case that the greatest casualty of recent events is the partial loss of trust in the official national security narrative since the country’s officials didn’t present a unified front related to the latest such threat that the former Prime Minister claimed was in motion. This observation is indisputable no matter how much some might want to suppress it. It must be acknowledged and responded to in the interests of restoring this partially lost trust in order to sustainably ensure national security the next time that such threats present themselves so that people don’t dismiss it as fake news.

This challenge will be immensely difficult to resolve considering the unprecedented polarization within society in response to the latest events. The former ruling party already proved that their interpretation of patriotism, sovereignty, and national security appeals to a wide segment of the population despite differing from The Establishment’s after inspiring the largest rallies that the country has seen in decades. The former Prime Minister also continues to describe those who replaced him as an imported government and declared the beginning of a peaceful and legal freedom struggle to politically liberate Pakistan from this foreign yoke.

These developments are unique in Pakistan’s history and further exacerbate the divide between the population’s respective interpretations of recent events and their relation to national security. There’s no doubt that the country’s enemies will inevitably attempt to exploit this dynamic, which is why it’s of the highest importance that society returns to unquestionably trusting their leaders and The Establishment whenever they warn about national security threats. This must be the top priority right now for all Pakistanis, both those within The Establishment (including its rank and file) and outside of it. Trust must urgently be restored, but for that to happen, a national dialogue might first be needed.

It’s Fifth Generation Warfare To Falsely Describe Imran Khan As Fascist

23 APRIL 2022

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By Andrew Korybko

Many Pakistanis feel that something is very wrong with incumbent Prime Minister Sharif’s description of his predecessor’s government as a “fascist regime” but can’t quite put their finger on it or feel uncomfortable calling it what it is: 5GW waged against them by their own leader for purely partisan purposes.

Fifth Generation Warfare (5GW), which can also be described as Hybrid Warfare, generally refers to the non-kinetic/non-military means that are employed by a foreign state to destabilize a targeted one. These importantly include information warfare and the increasingly creative narratives that are associated with such campaigns. Pakistan has long been targeted by 5GW due to its geostrategic position, which is why The Establishment – which refers to that country’s powerful military-intelligence structures – invested heavily in informing the masses about this over the years so that they can defend their homeland from such threats. Nowadays, however, the 5GW attacks against it are coming from within and being launched to advance a purely partisan aim. The worst part is that those participating in this campaign don’t realize how counterproductive it is to their country’s national security interests.

Everything began in the run-up to former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ouster from office through the opposition’s ultimately successful no-confidence motion against him. He described that sequence of events as a US-orchestrated regime change against him as punishment for his independent foreign policy, especially its Russian dimension, while the new authorities insisted that it was a purely constitutional process and therefore entirely legal. The weeks since have seen the former premier inspire some of the largest rallies in his country’s history. He also shattered the world record for the most popular Twitter Spaces session. Pakistan is now in the throes of a major political crisis that can objectively be described as a revolution after former Prime Minister Khan declared the formation of a new freedom movement whose followers will soon descend from all across the country onto the capital.

The grassroots appeal of his patriotic, pro-sovereignty, and national security narratives broke The Establishment’s prior monopoly on them and thus heralded a new socio-political (soft security) era for the country. Instead of pragmatically going with the flow and trying to regain partial control of these dynamic by extending credence to some of his interpretations, the new authorities fiercely pushed back against all of this in increasingly wild ways that included dehumanizing the former premier’s supporters as so-called “bots” and even describing him as a so-called “fascist”. Not only has this proven to be completely counterproductive to their cause of delegitimizing his narratives since all that it did was further embolden his supporters by convincing them that there’s indeed an actual conspiracy at play against them personally, but it also crucially eroded Pakistan’s national security at home and abroad.

To explain, newly inaugurated Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s description of his predecessor’s government as a so-called “fascist regime” amounted to the blowing of a dog whistle intended to signal to his allied media that they should maximally amplify this false narrative in a desperate attempt to delegitimize the former premier and his supporters. In other words, it represented the onset of an information warfare campaign, which thus makes it an example of 5GW, albeit one that’s being waged for purely partisan reasons and by none other than the new Prime Minister himself. The incumbent leader’s 5GW against his own people is unprecedented and took many by surprise since it was unexpected that someone in his position would ever do such a thing, especially after The Establishment spent years informing everyone of how dangerous such infowars can be.

Without realizing it, Prime Minister Sharif just discredited millions of his own people but also nearly the last four years of Pakistani policy. His emotional description, which he probably didn’t put any thought into before expressing otherwise he likely wouldn’t have shared it, made it impossible for there to be any civilized discourse between the feuding political sides since he implied that they’re genocidal racists. Even worse, his careless description discredited everything that former Prime Minister Khan ever did on the world stage, including his famous description of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a fascist while speaking at the UN General Assembly in September 2019. No Pakistani leader has ever done more for the Kashmiri cause than former Prime Minister Khan, yet incumbent Prime Minister Sharif regards all of that and more as nothing but the illegitimate actions of a so-called “fascist regime”.

By innuendo, it’s implied that his team plans to reverse everything that their “fascist” predecessor did, which raises questions about the new authorities’ stance towards Kashmir as well as the speculative scenario of hosting US bases after former Prime Minister Khan famously said “absolutely not” in response to a question about that last summer. After all, if the former premier presided over a so-called “fascist regime” that’s therefore presumed to have been “illegitimate” due to that extremely specific description of it, then it naturally follows that his supposedly “anti-fascist” replacement will dismantle everything that his predecessor did. This has enormous national security implications since the Kashmir Conflict is inextricably connected to Pakistan’s security. It also makes one wonder whether incumbent Prime Minister Sharif will revise his predecessor’s newly promulgated National Security Policy too.

That document eschewed geopolitics in favor of geo-economics, explicitly stating that “Pakistan’s geo-economic pivot is focused on enhancing trade and economic ties through connectivity that links Central Asia to our warm waters.” This means that relations with Russia are also of extremely high importance for Pakistan since that part of the world is traditionally regarded as being within that country’s so-called “sphere of influence”. For that reason, it’s all the more uncomfortable that the new authorities haven’t clarified anything about the deal that former Prime Minister Khan claimed that he was negotiating with Russia to receiver a 30% discount on agricultural and energy imports. This raises suspicions that that they might be seeking to reverse that dimension of the former premier’s “fascist” foreign policy, which in turn fuels speculation that they’re operating under US influence at the expense of national interests.

That’s because the deal that former Prime Minister Khan spoke about would objectively be in Pakistan’s national interests since this massive country desperately needs more food and fuel, especially at discounted prices, in order to weather the global agricultural and energy crises. Potentially doing away with that deal without having a better one to clinch with someone else instead would therefore be against Pakistan’s objective national interests, but it might be “justified” on a false “anti-fascist” pretext considering the ridiculous description that incumbent Prime Minister Sharif shared about his predecessor. In terms of 5GW, this “anti-fascist” infowar against former Prime Minister Khan fulfills the purpose of distracting the public from potential foreign policy decisions that might arguably be against the national interest, whether abandoning the deal with Russia or discrediting criticism of Indian policy.

This campaign is also actually fascist itself since it aims to dehumanize his supporters as nothing but so-called “bots” exactly as all fascist infowars throughout history have sought to do to their opponents. Once someone and their movement are described as “fascist”, those who labelled them as such feel morally superior and that they have the right to do whatever is needed – including that which would be regarded as immoral if done to anyone other than a so-called “fascist” – to fight against this so-called “evil”. It’s already dangerous enough that the incumbent Prime Minister discredited millions of his own people as “fascists” but it’s even worse that he also unwittingly discredited everything that Pakistan did on the world stage over nearly the past four years under the previous Prime Minister. This includes describing Indian Prime Minister Modi as fascist, the reported Russia deal, and declining US bases.

Pakistanis are very informed people who paid close attention when their respected Establishment informed them about 5GW threats to their country. Many feel that something is very wrong with incumbent Prime Minister Sharif’s description of his predecessor’s government as a “fascist regime” but can’t quite put their finger on it or feel uncomfortable calling it what it is: 5GW waged against them by their own leader for purely partisan purposes. This is unprecedented and also very dangerous since it threatens the country’s national security at home and abroad if this description is exploited as a pretext to crack down on the former premier’s supporters and/or to reverse his foreign policy over the past four years, especially towards India, Russia, and the US. Hopefully incumbent Prime Minister Sharif will realize how counterproductive his description was and will ask allied media to stop amplifying it.

Ben Norton on the US-Backed Coup in Pakistan, Neverending War in Ukraine, and a Multipolar World

April 21st, 2022

By Lowkey

Source

“Anyone who knows the basic history of the U.S. knows that it has organized coups and impeachments and color revolutions around the world for many decades, but [Khan’s ouster] was pretty much done in broad daylight!” – Ben Norton

Lowkey is joined by journalist Ben Norton to discuss the recent U.S.-backed coup in Pakistan, the West’s plan to turn Ukraine into a neverending war, and the new multipolar global order taking shape before our eyes.

Ben Norton is a Nicaragua-based journalist whose work is focused on U.S. foreign policy and international politics. He recently launched his new journalism platform, Multipolarista. His video content can also be found at Rokfin and on YouTube.

Today, he sat down to speak to Lowkey about the recent U.S.-backed coup against Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. Earlier this month, Khan was removed from his position following a vote of no confidence in his leadership, after several small parties from his coalition changed their allegiance.

Khan fought back, claiming that the United States had threatened him and that U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu had effectively organized his ouster. There are several pictures of U.S. officials meeting senior Pakistani politicians shortly before the ouster.

The final straw, for the United States, appears to have been Khan’s refusal to join with the U.S. in condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Khan’s political enemies have essentially confirmed his story, noting that Lu promised that “all would be forgiven” if they moved against him. “Beggars can’t be choosers,” said opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif, explaining that Pakistan was not in a position to defy U.S. orders.

Norton told Lowkey:

This is an incredible, blatant act of meddling by the U.S. government. Of course, anyone who knows the basic history of the U.S. knows that it has organized coups and impeachments and color revolutions around the world for many decades, but [Khan’s ouster] was pretty much done in broad daylight!”

Norton also discussed his new article, “NATO admits it wants ‘Ukrainians to keep dying’ to bleed Russia, not peace,” which details how Western nations are flooding the country with arms, not to stop the violence, but to keep it going indefinitely. The arming of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan during the 1980s appears to be the model they are following. These weapons do not come free, however, and are being sold with strings attached. Thus, Ukrainians will pay both in cash and in blood. As Norton warned:

Ukraine is going to be trapped in all this debt that it will have to pay back to the U.S. How is it going to pay it back? It is going to have to privatize state-owned assets, sell off natural resources, and cut wages for Ukrainians. And this is after years of [Western-model] neoliberal shock therapy imposed on Ukraine.”

The pair also discussed the changing global order, with a rising China leading a bloc of countries intent on being independent from the Washington-led system. This, Norton contended, is in part down to the punitive sanctions regime that the U.S. imposes on anyone who angers it, pushing other states closer together in common interests. Today, more than one-third of the world lives under American sanctions. “What this has done is that it has forced countries around the world to find alternatives,” Norton told Lowkey, adding:

By imposing more and more sanctions on countries, it has incentivized them to look for alternatives. They don’t want to hold their wealth in dollars because we have seen the U.S. government seizing the foreign currency reserves of Iran, Venezuela and Afghanistan. And now they just did the same thing to Russia!”

Join Lowkey today for a critically important discussion about current events and the future of the world, and do not forget to subscribe on YouTube or your favorite podcast platform.

Is Imran Khan Anti-American Or Pro-Pakistani?

April 22, 2022

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By Andrew Korybko

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is among the world’s most talked-about politicians in the present day. He described his removal from office in early April through the opposition’s successful no-confidence motion against him as being a U.S.-orchestrated regime change that was carried out to punish him for his independent foreign policy, especially its Russian dimension, while the new authorities insist that it was a purely constitutional and therefore legal process.

The former premier has since inspired some of the largest rallies in Pakistan’s history as he launched what he’s now calling his country’s new freedom movement following massive events in Peshawar, Karachi, Lahore, and soon even the capital of Islamabad itself. He also shattered the world record for the largest Twitter Spaces session in late April too, all of which confirms how popular he remains among his people.

His interpretation of the sequence of events that led to his ouster has prompted claims from his opponents that he’s anti-American, which they portray as a radical worldview that is at odds with Pakistan’s objective national interests. Some of his critics have even speculated that he admires so-called “dictators” and supposedly aspires to be just like them, leading to fears that he’ll run his country’s economy further into the ground in the event that he happens to return to power through the immediate, free, and fair elections that he’s demanding as the only resolution to Pakistan’s ongoing political crisis.

All of this has had the effect of sowing fear about his ideological intentions, which in turn is meant to scare people away from supporting him, albeit to no avail thus far. It’s therefore appropriate to analyze whether one of the most talked-about politicians in the world is really anti-American or not.

Those convinced he is (or at least are acting as if that’s what they think in order to get others to believe this) point to his fierce critiques of U.S. policy during his nearly four years in office. They portray his position as nonsensical, especially his famous response of “absolutely not” when asked last year about the scenario of hosting U.S. bases. Although followers of this school of thought likely won’t ever openly say as much since it’s regarded as “politically correct” in their society to do so, they very strongly imply that it’s impossible for Pakistan to be treated with the respect that it deserves as the America’s equal that it technically is in the eyes of international law no matter how much former Prime Minister Khan wants this to happen. Due to the institutionalized asymmetry in their relations, particularly the economic-financial dimension, they regard this as a lost cause that’s doomed to fail.

Instead of publicly demanding respect and equality from the U.S., including by defying its speculative wish for Pakistan to host American bases and its National Security Advisor’s reported demand not to visit Moscow in late February like he ultimately ended up doing as part of his preplanned maiden trip there, they believe that their country must always comply with whatever Washington wants in order to continue reaping some of the miniscule economic-financial benefits associated with their bilateral relations. After all, they never tire of reminding their audience, the U.S. is Pakistan’s largest export market and exerts disproportionate influence over international economic and financial institutions so it follows that Islamabad mustn’t ever get on Washington’s bad side no matter what. Should that happen, however, then it’ll certainly be punished, and the Pakistani people will inevitably suffer as a result.

Since followers of this pro-U.S. school of thought see everything in terms of their country’s supposedly eternal status as America’s junior partner, they can’t countenance why former Prime Minister Khan would publicly criticize the U.S. and then go even further by openly defying it on the foreign policy front. The only explanation for this supposedly obvious counterproductive approach that they’re absolutely certain is against Pakistan’s objective national interests in all respects is to speculate that he’s a radical anti-American revolutionary who hates that superpower with all his heart and will stop at nothing to weaken its global standing even if that results in harming his own country. This position implies that former Prime Minister Khan might be a “madman” and could thus potentially constitute a threat to the Pakistani state itself, perhaps even a treasonous one if he’s harming it on purpose like they suspect.

That’s one way to interpret the former premier’s foreign policy, while the other is to describe him as a pro-Pakistani patriot who’s passionate about doing whatever he can to restore his very proud country’s respect and honor on the world stage in the interests of international justice that’s in line with his deeply held religious views. Former Prime Minister Khan is a very pious Muslim who has a strong sense of what’s right and wrong. In his heart, as influenced by his religious beliefs, he seemingly feels as though it’s the epitome of injustice for his country to voluntarily remain the US’ junior partner in perpetuity. This is especially the case since it doesn’t truly derive mutual benefit from this inferior status, nor do its people gain from this apart from a fraction of the elite, many of whom in the political and media spheres he’s described as corrupt. He sincerely appears to believe that the only way he can conduct foreign policy in accordance with his patriotic and religious views is to reform this relationship.

To that end, there was no way that former Prime Minister Khan would voluntarily subserviate Pakistan to American demands if it had the chance of pursuing credible alternatives. Regarding his refusal to host U.S. bases in the scenario that such was ever requested, he explained his decision in an op-ed for the Washington Post that was published in late September by describing the counterproductive consequences of his country supporting its ally’s war in Afghanistan since the start of the century. He wrote that “Between 2006 and 2015, nearly 50 militant groups declared jihad on the Pakistani state, conducting over 16,000 terrorist attacks on us. We suffered more than 80,000 casualties and lost over $150 billion in the economy. The conflict drove 3.5 million of our citizens from their homes.” Informed by this very painful precedent, there was no way that he could risk that scenario occurring ever again.

As for the Russian-friendly dimension of his foreign policy, former Prime Minister Khan revealed that Moscow offered to provide Pakistan a 30% discount on agricultural and petrol products, not to mention the progress that he hoped to achieve on agreeing to the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline project. Both of these would greatly aid his country in weathering the ongoing crises in those two spheres, which disproportionately affect Pakistan a lot more than most other developing countries due to the fact that it’s the fifth most populous country in the world. The further exacerbation of the global agricultural and fuel crises could therefore be devastating not just for Pakistan itself, but also for the difficult region in which it’s located, especially if it results in Pakistan’s internal destabilization. With this in mind, it was objectively in the national interest for him to pursue these discounted deals with Russia.

Comparing the anti-American and pro-Pakistani interpretations of former Prime Minister Khan’s foreign policy, one can discern the primary reason behind their differences: ideology. Those who regard him as anti-American hint that they themselves believe that Pakistan should forever remain the US’ junior partner no matter how much this disrespects and humiliates its people, to say nothing of the uneven benefits that it brings to the country, which are also inequitably distributed across society since they mostly remain within the realm of its entrenched elite instead of being enjoyed by the masses. By contrast, those who consider him pro-Pakistani are inspired by patriotism and a religiously influenced sense of justice to reform this lopsided relationship in order to finally receive the respect that their country deserves and in pursuit of more meaningful and equitably distributed benefits for its people.

The first-mentioned school of thought is absolutely against doing anything that can result in Pakistan obtaining strategic autonomy since this is considered to be a needless provocation that will certainly result in their country being punished by the American hegemon in one way or another. The second, meanwhile, supports taking calculated risks despite the potential consequences since they believe that their patriotic and just cause is worth it. To clarify the pro-Pakistani school of thought, they’re interested in cooperating with the US just like their ideological rivals are, but they insist that this must be done pragmatically in ways that derive mutual and meaningful benefit such as negotiating a new free trade agreement in order to attract more American investment instead of voluntarily sacrificing their country’s sovereignty and what they sincerely regard as its objective national interests just to please Washington.

As former Prime Minister Khan’s popularity continues to surge and the rest of the world begins to take notice of what he’s now calling his country’s new freedom movement, the question of whether he’s anti-American or pro-Pakistani will become more globally debated, especially in the event that the new authorities agree to hold immediate, free, and fair elections exactly as he demands in order to de-escalate rapidly intensifying political tensions in this geostrategically significant country. Everyone’s entitled to their own interpretation of his worldview, but the answer that they come up with to this question will determine whether they support or oppose him. Those who consider him to be anti-American are against him ever returning to office while those who believe that he’s actually just pro-Pakistani want to see him back as soon as possible, though his political future still remains uncertain.

The risks, challenges, and crisis of the Ukraine war.

April 21, 2022

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By Zamir Awan

The last few decades have witnessed several wars, like the Iraq war, Libya war, Yemen war, Syria war, the Afghan war, etc. But all of such wars were designed by the US and executed along with NATO/ US allies. The US-style of wars, was first building a narrative, using media as propaganda, and then, involving the UN and international community, or convincing the rest of the world for its war acts. As a result, the US achieved its objectives without getting blamed for wars, aggressions, invasions, etc. Although millions were killed, millions were injured, many serious with lifetime disabilities, millions of houses were destroyed making millions of people homeless, forcing millions of people to live in refugee camps or take asylum in other countries and spend the rest of their lives in misery. Infrastructure was damaged, the economy was destroyed, social systems were damaged totally, changed regime installed puppets and dictated them to serve American interests, etc.

All wars are equally bad and harmful to humankind. Either the victims are Muslims, Christians, Jews, or any other religion. Whether, the victims are black, yellow, or white, are equally precious. Irrespective of race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, or social status, all lives deserve equal treatment and respect. The UN charter guarantees the protection of all humankind equally.

But Ukraine war is very special and bears different consequences:-

  • The Russia-Ukraine conflict has not only created a worldwide political, diplomatic, economic, food, and energy crisis but has also exposed the double standards of the world powers towards the principles of international politics and global governance.
  • It is expected the conflict to be a long-drawn-out affair. This is reinforced by the fact that despite the inclination of the Russian leadership or military to end the war at an early stage, on the ground trends in the shape of military armament and around 50,000 non-state actors in Ukraine offer a very alarming specter.
  • The war is not a choice but perhaps a strategic compulsion that Moscow felt for several reasons like challenges ranging from the global world order to the expansion of NATO and also concerns regarding the political leadership of Ukraine and its policies.
  • It is an ideational conflict that shows the level of violence and degree of pain and cost that could be inflicted on Russia by the US-led western alliance. The war seems to be a grave miscalculation on Russia’s part because the ability of the western world to cause pain in an enduring fashion across several domains beyond the kinetic tactical or operational battlefield of Ukraine will make it very difficult for Moscow to sustain and achieve its objectives.
  • China views this conflict with a lot of concern because it offers more challenges than opportunities. A weakened Russia is not in the Chinese interest. Moreover, the revival and rearmament of NATO also indirectly do not augur well for Beijing in terms of future prospects. Another aspect is that although China wants to sustain its global economic growth but not at the cost of disturbing its trade relations with the west.
  • It is highlighted the buildup of the Quad, the Indo-Pacific strategy, and the recent rise of QUAD 2.0. If all these are added up most of these things are aimed at containing China and disrupting its global rise. This conflict has perhaps reminded Washington that they cannot afford to only concentrate the major share of their hard power only on Asia-Pacific and need to maintain their security commitment towards the west and Europe as well.
  • In the regional context, India was seen in flux because its military forces are heavily dependent on Russia for meeting its technological and operational needs but it is facing a very difficult challenge due to its growing diplomatic and economic ties with the US. As such Delhi will find it rather difficult to balance these contrasting challenges.
  • The Muslim world was urged to introspect because they have been accused of over 20 years of terrorism but this reality dawning in eastern Europe allows them to look at how other civilizations and value systems call upon non-state actors and militant organizations when they are challenged and how they are presented in the Western-dominated media.
  • In terms of identity, it poses a simultaneous challenge in terms of race, religion, and nationalism. The western alliance sees this as the frustration of the Russian orthodox Christianity facing the challenge of the western world order which is characterized by the Protestants and Catholics.
  • The societal aspect should be seen in the context of globalization and the perpetual process of the interconnectedness of the different civilizations, societies, peoples, cultures, and economies. This is perhaps the biggest challenge globalization has received in terms of a counter-globalization movement.
  • The economic aspect is not just playing out in the sanctions regime but also the trade and currency wars, and the grave concern that Beijing has because to sustain its economic expansion and global influence it is heavily dependent on Western Europe and America for maintaining its export market which is worth over $600 billion. The increasing energy prices pose a huge challenge for the developing world and the governments, especially immediately after the COVID crisis.
  • In the political domain, it is the greatest test of the current world order and a complex contest between the ideational powers, revivalist powers, and states that want to be identified based on nationalism. It is an ideational challenge to the status quo world order by a frustrated and provoked Russia which wants to be respected for its economic, political and strategic revival.
  • In terms of the security domain, the conflict has led to the revival and rearmament of NATO, which does not augur well for China and Russia. It also has reduced Russian energy leverage and soft power on Western Europe and revived sub-conventional warfare as a means of great power contest in the east European theater.
  • Russia is angered by the eastward expansion of NATO and has challenged the Western-led world order. He also said that Western sanctions could affect Pakistan’s ability to benefit from improving ties with Moscow, in terms of meeting its energy needs.
  • Ukraine conflict has created a worldwide economic, energy, and food crisis that has affected all the countries including Pakistan.
  • The conflict represents a Russian challenge to the US exceptionalism which the Western world is contesting by supporting the Ukraine government through militants which presents the world an opportunity to recover from its excessive focus on the Muslim world.
  • The Western powers cannot have one set of rules for themselves and another for other countries in terms of security and prosperity and Russia is no longer willing to access this contradictory Western approach.
  • Ukraine War is an ideational conflict for the US which should not merely be seen in a geopolitical context while Russia, through this military operation, wants to show the world that it is back on the world stage.
  • This conflict offers more challenges than opportunities for Beijing and although the Western powers view China as standing on the Russian side a weakened Russia is not in Chinese interests.
  • India faced a complex dilemma of maintaining its very close defense cooperation with Russia and simultaneously building deep and long-term strategic and diplomatic ties with the United States.
  • Muslim societies should start thinking of alternative arrangements, such as a monetary union and common market, to address their concerns during international crises.
  • The world banking system and global energy supply chain have badly suffered due to this conflict. He said that more than one trillion dollars have been stuck in the global banking system due to the war.

Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization). (E-mail: awanzamir@yahoo.com).

Sitrep: Zone B

April 18, 2022

Source

By Amarynth

By now everyone has read Andrei (The Saker’s) excellent essay on what he termed Zone A and Zone B.

Zone B exists, thus there is hope, I promise you!

This sitrep will look at three Zone B country actions, all driven by those that understand we are in a civilizational moment of change in our world.

Mexico:  A week ago, AMLO fulfilled his promise to the electorate and had what is generally called a re-call vote.  Simply, if you don’t like what I do, you can recall me right now and we will have new elections – a direct democracy action.  He won, by an astonishing 91.86 percent of the vote — or 15.1 million out of 16.5 million votes cast.  We can conclude that he is a popular president and the Mexican people are with him.

Yet, he has been under pressure for the same reasons that other Zone B countries are being pressurised.  He refused to criticize Russia’s actions and refused to join the sanctions regime.  In a moment of harsh pressure, he made a statement that again did not criticize Russia per se, but criticized war.   Today is the day that there is a discussion on energy sovereignty, and whereas I don’t know the minute details, this is a long term objective of AMLO.  I would read the tea leaves and suggest that the pressure on AMLO had to do with where Mexico sells its oil.

Given Mexico’s geographic position in the world, this looks like a very gutsy Zone B move to me.

Pakistan: Imran Khan was removed as Prime Minister of Pakistan via a very easy mechanism of regime change. A few of his key legislators joined the opposition and he found himself without a majority. He (and his remaining legislators) walked out, minutes before a new leader was elected, as they refused to be part of a US-imposed government structure. It did not end there. He called people to the streets to fight for the sovereign principles of a Zone B country.

Take a look:

Then, as usual, we find out the reason for this regime change. After the change of leader, Pakistan sent air attacks against Afghanistan. Under Khan, they refused to give space to US forces for a new attack base against Afghanistan, whether the Taliban is in control or not. China somewhat ‘adopted’ Afghanistan and is doing much work there to bring the Taliban into a fair governance position.

This is early days and we will see if the massive Zone B populace in the streets of Pakistan makes a difference.  Early elections are being called for.

And from Russia:

Do read the full article:  https://thecradle.co/Article/news/9248

Imran Khan’s Multipolar Legacy Can’t Ever Be Fully Dismantled

SUNDAY 10 APR 22

By Andrew Korybko

Source

It’s difficult to predict what’ll happen next in Pakistan, a country that’s always been characterized by political intrigue and sudden radical changes that oftentimes catch many off guard, but it’s clear that Imran Khan’s multipolar legacy can’t ever be fully dismantled. For however imperfect his premiership was, there’s no denying that it was immensely impactful in terms of reshaping perceptions at home and abroad, including through its multipolar National Security Policy.

The success of the US-orchestrated regime change operation in Pakistan has prompted concern that the pro-US school of thought within that country’s Establishment will attempt to dismantle some of the achievements of their multipolar peers under the government of former Prime Minister Imran Khan. While it remains to be seen whether any attempts are undertaken in that direction, there’s no doubt that it’s impossible to ever fully dismantle his multipolar legacy. That’s because the formerly ruling PTI has since become a genuinely multipolar movement that clearly articulates this promising worldview to the masses unlike its competitors which lack any coherent worldview (if even one at all apart from being pro-US). This development will have far-reaching consequences for Pakistan’s domestic political future.

Although the country’s relations with Russia began to improve under different governments, it was only under PTI that they became strategic after obtaining meaningful substance through close cooperation on Afghanistan, the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline (PSGP), and PAKAFUZ. In fact, it was precisely because of the former Prime Minister’s trip to Moscow in late February against the reported wishes of the US that the declining unipolar hegemon set into motion its de facto “lawfare” coup against him by exploiting preexisting political differences within the country as well as its constitutional process to overthrow him as punishment. This means that his government’s foreign policy achievements with that Eurasian Great Power will always be inextricably connected with former Prime Minister Khan’s legacy.

While that might forever remain the most dramatic foreign policy aspect of his tenure for obvious reasons related to the scandalous way in which his premiership ended, it wasn’t the only multipolar achievement under his belt. Of similar importance was his brave refusal to host US bases following America’s chaotic evacuation from Afghanistan last August and thus sacrifice what he sincerely regarded as his country’s objective national interests. Former Prime Minister Khan also defied US-led Western pressure by unforgettably asking those nearly two dozen European Ambassadors in Islamabad who broke diplomatic protocol by demanding that he publicly condemn Russia “Are we your slaves?” This easily understandable message represented the pro-sovereignty vision that defined his time in office.

Not only that, but he also did more than any Pakistani leader before him to draw global attention to his country’s position towards the unresolved Kashmir Conflict, with his 2019 speech at the UN General Assembly a little over one month after New Delhi’s unilateral abrogation of Article 370 being regarded as one of the hallmarks of his premiership. There’s no doubt that global perceptions about India began to gradually change for the worse as a result of him placing Kashmir front and center in terms of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Seeing as how patriotic that issue is for average Pakistanis, he can be said to have galvanized the masses under his leadership, which helps explain his immense popularity and that of his party.

The same can be said about the passion with which he pursued his anti-Islamophobia campaign too. Former Prime Minister Khan didn’t tolerate any disrespect being displayed towards the Prophet Muhammad or his believers anywhere in the world. This became just as globally associated with his premiership as his support for Kashmir. Even though neither achieved much in terms of tangible substance, they were highly symbolic and pursued with indisputable sincerity due to the strength of his personal convictions. They rallied the masses and generated a lot of positive attention across the world for Pakistan. These campaigns also served to inspire average Pakistanis to feel very proud of their country.

It also deserves mentioning that it was under former Prime Minister Khan that Pakistan finally promulgated its first-ever National Security Policy in January. This document can objectively be described as articulating a genuinely multipolar vision through its prohibition of bloc politics and its focus on geo-economics instead of geopolitics. This double break with the past was brought about by the multipolar school of his country’s Establishment supporting these policies in contrast to the presumably different vision supported by their pro-US peers. Despite this multipolar leader’s departure from office, it’s expected that those within The Establishment who share his worldview and helped implement it into policy will do their utmost to retain this multipolar vision.

These observations explain why rallies were held in his support nationwide on Sunday, the day after he was ousted from office and just before the new government will be announced on Monday. Unlike PMLN and PPP, the country’s two other largest parties that united to depose him, PTI isn’t regarded as a regional party. It also has a reputation for anti-corruption, which sets it apart from those two who’ve been plagued by perceptions of being corrupt to the core. They’re also considered by many to represent the past system of governance that many blame for Pakistan’s enduring problems that not even former Prime Minister Khan was able to fix despite trying his best over the past few years in office. Another important observation is that large segments of the youth and intelligentsia support the former premier.

This is because he convincingly articulated his vision for “Naya (New) Pakistan” and took some tangible steps to implement it into practice, both in terms of the powerful messaging associated with his pro-Kashmir and anti-Islamophobia campaigns as well as the achievements connected with the rapid rapprochement with Russia that he oversaw. The National Security Policy’s geo-economic vision and prohibition of bloc politics filled Pakistanis with hope that their country was finally changing for the better with the times. Many people despise how their formal American ally took advantage of them throughout the course of the “Global War On Terror” so they saw former Prime Minister Khan’s policies as a pro-Pakistani alternative to the pro-US policies of his predecessors that caused so much suffering.

Standing up to the US wasn’t considered “anti-American” but pro-Pakistani, or put more simply, as a long-overdue expression of self-respect and sovereignty that these proud people yearned for decades to see their leaders publicly display. Their former premier’s famous declaration of “absolutely not” in response to a question about hosting US bases filled them with pride since he did that which no prior leader was ever able to do even though it ultimately contributed to costing him his position. Try as the pro-US school of The Establishment might, it cannot remove the impression from many Pakistanis’ hearts that Imran Khan truly represented the “Naya Pakistan” that they felt that they finally deserved to experience in their lifetime while the US-backed opposition represents a return to the shameful past.

Perceptions are reality, as some have provocatively claimed, and they’re also a powerful mobilizing force as proven by the nationwide rallies in the former Prime Minister’s support on Sunday. His PTI began as an anti-corruption movement that morphed into a genuinely multipolar one that impressively raised the population’s political and class consciousness, including their awareness of foreign affairs and the importance of a balanced approach to the ongoing global systemic transition towards multipolarity. For these reasons, one can somewhat describe his premiership as “revolutionary” because of the socio-political changes that it unleashed among the masses. It’s also quite an achievement that he united large segments of the intelligentsia behind him too as well as many overseas Pakistanis.

It’s difficult to predict what’ll happen next in Pakistan, a country that’s always been characterized by political intrigue and sudden radical changes that oftentimes catch many off guard, but it’s clear that Imran Khan’s multipolar legacy can’t ever be fully dismantled. He left his mark on his people, who are now inspired by the example that he made during his time in office, especially with respect to restoring their pride and the world’s respect for their country. For however imperfect his premiership was, there’s no denying that it was immensely impactful in terms of reshaping perceptions at home and abroad, including through its multipolar National Security Policy. This is a reality that The Establishment’s pro-US school and the US-backed opposition can’t erase from the public’s consciousness and are thus forced to accept.

Iran Stands To Gain From Possible Changes In Russia’s Relations With Israel & Pakistan

By Andrew Korybko

Source

The pro-US “deep state” schools within Israel and Pakistan that are speculated to have recently returned to policymaking prominence within their permanent bureaucracies have an interest in recalibrating their governments’ respective balancing acts within the emerging Multipolar World Order after its adherents became concerned that they were leaning too close to Russia in recent years at the expense of their traditional US ally.

Russia’s ongoing special military operation in Ukraine has led to unpredictable consequences for its Greater Eurasian Partnership (GEP), which refers to its 21st-century grand strategy for integrating the supercontinent. Up until the onset of that campaign and the US-led West’s unprecedented response, it had been simultaneously pursuing the creation of a new Non-Aligned Movement (“Neo-NAM”) with India as well as its “Ummah Pivot” of prioritizing relations with the majority-Muslim countries beyond its southern borders. The first-mentioned was balanced by the rapid Russian-Pakistani rapprochement while the second was kept in check by the “Rusrael” project, which refers to Russia’s de facto alliance with Israel.

Both of these balances within these two pillars of its GEP (the third being its entente with China) are becoming increasingly unbalanced after their future suddenly became uncertain following recent developments. These are Israel’s decision to vote against Russia twice at the UN and the scandalous change of government in Pakistan that former Prime Minister Khan described as a US-orchestrated regime change but which the new Establishment-backed coalition authorities insist was a constitutional and purely domestic process. The Rusrael project is now at risk of being dismantled by the pro-US school of Israel’s permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) while the pace of the rapid Russian-Pakistani rapprochement might be slowed due to the influence of that same school.

Both pro-US “deep state” schools have an interest in recalibrating their governments’ respective balancing acts within the emerging Multipolar World Order after its adherents became concerned that they were leaning too close to Russia in recent years at the expense of their traditional US ally. In the event that either of them ends up changing the nature of their relations with that Eurasian Great Power, not to mention if both of them do this, then Iran would certainly stand to gain from these possible developments. Its relations with Israel are adversarial while its one with Pakistan can be described as complicated. Even though it likely looked askance at Russia’s strategic ties with both of them, it didn’t let that influence their bilateral relations, which are better than at any previous time in history.

Iran presently serves as a valve from US-led Western pressure on Russia though Washington is also flirting with the scenario of flipping the Islamic Republic against Moscow by reportedly making any new nuclear deal contingent on Tehran complying with its illegal sanctions regime against the Kremlin. It remains unclear Iran would agree to this, but doing so would arguably be counterproductive from its grand strategic interests since it they’re best served by becoming even more important to Russia in the event that Moscow’s ties with Israel and/or Pakistan change in the coming future. The Islamic Republic presently functions as the irreplaceable geographic conduit through which Russian-Indian trade is being conducted, which immensely benefits its struggling economy and is thus unlikely to change.

Another argument in favor of that conclusion is that Iran is de facto participating in the joint Russian-Indian “Neo-NAM” by facilitating their bilateral trade and also enabling India to enter Central Asia from where Moscow expects it to balance Chinese influence in a friendly, gentle, and non-hostile way. Furthermore, Iran’s ideological leadership sincerely believes in multipolarity and wisely understands the role that Russia is playing in accelerating such trends so it serves to reason that they’d prefer for Moscow to continue do so since this is also in their grand strategic interests. Observers should therefore very closely monitor Russian-Iranian relations across the coming months since they might further improve in parallel with any potential changes in Russia’s ties with Israel and/or Pakistan.

Pakistan PM Accuses US of Funding “Conspiracy” to Topple His Gov’t

April 11, 2022 

By Staff, Agencies

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan accused an unnamed “foreign power” – in a clear reference to the United States – of funding a “conspiracy” to topple his democratically elected government.

Addressing a large rally in the capital Islamabad on Sunday, Khan said the “foreign power” sent millions of dollars to opposition parties to launch a no-confidence vote against him in the parliament.

Khan, who had formed a coalition government after winning the election in 2018, said he was the subject of a “foreign conspiracy” aimed at dislodging his government and that “funding was being channeled into Pakistan from abroad.” 

A no-confidence motion has been tabled in Pakistan’s National Assembly, with days of debates expected to start next week before the vote. The opposition needs a simple majority to oust Khan, after which a new prime minister would be chosen by the parliament.

“We have been threatened in writing but we will not compromise on national interests,” said Khan, who met with Vladimir Putin in Moscow on February 24, the same day the Russian leader ordered a military operation in neighboring Ukraine. 

Before that, Khan visited Beijing in January, defying US President Joe Biden’s call for a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics.

“The money is from abroad and the people that are being used are ours [Pakistan’s]. Some of them unknowingly, and some knowingly, are using this money against us,” the prime minister said.

“Attempts are being made to influence our foreign policy from abroad. We have been aware of this conspiracy for months. We also know about those who have assembled these people [the opposition parties] but the time has changed. This is not the era of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto,” he said, referring to the former prime minister of Pakistan who was allegedly threatened by former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger over the country’s nuclear program.

Bhutto’s government was toppled and he was hanged by the military in 1979.

“This is the era of social media. Nothing can be hidden. We will not accept anyone’s dictation. We will have friendships with everyone but we will not submit ourselves to anyone,” Khan said.

“Attempts are being made through foreign money to change the government in Pakistan. Our people are being used. Mostly inadvertently, but some people are using money against us. We know from what places attempts are being to pressure us. We have been threatened in writing but we will not compromise on national interest,” the Dawn newspaper reported.

Khan then splashed a letter and said it would prove his point. “I am placing the case of Pakistan’s independence before you. The letter I have is proof and I want to dare anyone who doubts this letter. I will invite them off the record. We have to decide for how long we will have to live like this. We are getting threats. There are many things about the foreign conspiracy which will be shared very soon.”

“The nation wants to know who the man sitting in London is meeting with and whose directions the characters based in Pakistan are following? I am revealing the proofs we have. I cannot talk more in detail because I have to protect the interest of my country. I cannot talk about anything that harms my country. I could have told you about it. I do not fear anyone but I care about Pakistan’s interest,” he stated.

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