What would a Russian defeat mean for the people of the West?

November 15, 2022

Regular readers of the blog know that I separate our poor and long-suffering planet into two basic parts: Zone A, aka the AngloZionist Empire, aka the World Hegemony aka the “Axis of Kindness” and what I call Zone B, or the Free World.  Very approximately, we need to separate the ruling elites and the people they rule over separately.  Here is, very roughly, what we get:

Zone AZone B
Ruling elitesHate Russia/PutinSome fear the Hegemony, but others don’t
Peoplemostly indifferent or hostilemostly support Russia/Putin

Next, I propose to make a simple though experiment.  Let’s assume that Russia loses the war against NATO.  We do *not* need to spell out how exactly such a defeat could/would happen, we simply assume that Russia is unable to achieve her goals of denazification and demilitarization of the Ukraine (and, really, all of NATO), that NATO forces are successful in defeating the Russian military machine (again, it does not matter how, with or without amazing Wunderwaffen) and that Russia very clearly loses.

We don’t even need to define what “defeat” would mean?  Maybe we can imagine that Russia gets keeps Crimea, but loses all her recently liberated regions from the former Ukraine, or maybe NATO manages to even occupy Crimea. I don’t see NATO tanks in downtown Moscow, but we can even imagine a purely psychological defeat in which both sides believe that Russia has lost and NATO won.

Again, details, no matter how improbable and far removed from reality, do not matter.  What matters is only this: once all the four groups above realize that NATO has defeated Russia, how would they react?

For the leaders of the Hegemony, this would be a dream come true.  In fact, the Neocons running the Hegemony will most likely decide that they need to “finish the job” which they did not finish in the 90s, and that Russia needs to be broken up into several parts.  This would be the West’s latest “final solution” for the “Russian problem”.

For the leaders of the Free World, a Russian defeat would signal that there are no alternatives to the Hegemony and that like it or not, the AngloZionists will rule the planet.  Like the Borg in Star Trek like to proclaim: “We are the Hegemony.  Resistance is futile.  You will be assimilated“.

For most people in the Free world, a Russian defeat would be a crushing disappointment for the simple reason that most people would see the AngloZionist plan for what it is: get Russia first, then take on and bring down China and then, eventually, Iran and any other nation daring to disobey the rulers of the Hegemony.

Clearly, this is not about the Ukraine, this is about the future of mankind as a whole.

But what about the people in Zone A who currently already live under the AngloZionist yoke?

[Quick reminder: I have decided, for various reasons, not to discuss internal US politics on the Saker blog and I will try hard to stick to this rule.  Still, I will state the obvious: we all now know the outcome of the latest elections in the USA and the adults in the room understand what happened, no need to list various truisms here.  If there is anybody reading this who would sincerely believe that some variation of the Neocon Uniparty in power will change things for the better or even slow down the inevitable collapse I would recommend that this person stop reading here.  Now for the rest of us:]

I think that the initial reaction of most people in Zone A will be a mix of relief (“Of course I knew that the West would win!“) and indifference (transgender issues are SO much more important!): their valiant “finest fighting force in the history of the world” kicked some rooskie commie ass which most definitely deserved some ass-kicking.  Some of the most sanguine defenders of the “western civilization” will even drop by our comments section and gloat “ha! ha! told you! your Putin and his clueless generals got their asses kicked by the most bestest US and NATO generals!“.  And for a while, they will feel really good.  Vindicated:  finally the dumbshit stupid Russians will pay the price for electing and supporting such a weak, indecisive, naive, corrupt, incompetent (and possibly even dying of cancer) leader!

And if only the Kremlin had had the wisdom to listen to its “western friends”!

But no, the Kremlin did not, and now there is going to be hell to pay.  Of course, if Russia’s “western friends” had been in charge, they would have executed a lightening fast blitzkrieg a long time ago, smashed Banderastan into smithereens (à la Fallujah if you wish) and quickly an decisively defeated NATO.  But those clueless idiots in the Kremlin did not listen, and so they deserve what is coming next.

Okay, fair enough.

But what about the regular people in Zone A?  The ones whose “side” supposedly “won”?

Once the initial bliss and celebrations are over, what will happen to them next?

Anybody want to take a guess?  If so, please post your thoughts in the comments section below.

My personal take is that after the defeat of Russia, the defeat of China (by whatever means) would be next.  Once that happens, all of the following will become decapitated and irrelevant: BRICS, SCO, CSTO.  The next country on the Hegemony’s kill list is Iran which, having lost the backing of both Russia and China will not be able to successfully challenge the Hegemony.  That, in turn will have major consequences for the entire Middle-East.  Wannabe Pasha Erdogan would be very quickly brought to heel.  Ditto for MBS.

The Israelis will feel like they “fixed the universe” well enough and that their Moshiach must be next 🙂

With Russia and China out of the way, Central Asia would be frankly easy picking for the Hegemony. In fact, all the Russian limitrophes would quickly be absorbed into the Hegemony.

The same goes for Pakistan and India, who would quickly lose most (or even all) of their sovereignty.  Afghanistan will be handed over to the (US-baked and run) ISIS.  Eventually, both Latin America and African will be fully recolonized (to the immense relief and joy of the local comprador class).

Now I submit that anybody with a modicum of information and intelligence will agree that the gang of woke freaks currently running the USA and almost every EU country out there doesn’t give a damn about the people they rule over: they see them only as means of production, in other words, as slaves who need to be given sufficient amounts of (bad) food and immense amounts of (truly demonic) “entertainment” to keep them nice, and happy and, above all, obedient and ignorant.  So here comes my question:

With Zone B gone, what hope for a better future, if any, could the slaves of the AngloZionist Hegemony keep in their hearts if our entire planet turns into Zone A?

The current repressive apparatus available to the US ruling class which includes 17 “intelligence” agencies,  the biggest military aggression budget on the planet, the highest number of prisoners kept in jails, the total informational control provided by Google, Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, etc. etc. etc. militarized police forces and other agencies ready to deal with “internal terrorists” (sometimes defined as any MAGA person), and a school and college system designed to create obedient office plankton (white collar) and fast food employees (blue collar) with almost no awareness, nevermind any understanding, of the outside world.  EU states are not quite there (yet) but they are catching up fast.

This is not a system which will simply collapse by itself or, even less so, be overthrown by its “deplorables”.

I have mentioned this many times in the past: the US political system is neither viable nor reformable.

The EU political system is basically an extension of the US political system, just with a more strongly pronounced colonial mindset (“fuck the EU” right?).

So will the Hegemony turn our entire planet into a giant and “woke” Disney World run by Neocons?

Not as long as Russia, China, Iran and others are standing firm.  But if these “resisting nations” are crushed, then its show over for the people of Zone A whose slavery will not only last even much longer, but whose living conditions will further rapidly deteriorate

And once the “bread and games” thingie fails, you can bet that violent repression is next.

ANY regime which seriously aims at colonizing the entire planet (which the Hegemony undoubtedly does!) will ALWAYS keep its own population in slave-like conditions, materially, culturally and spiritually.

So, to paraphrase Malcolm Xthe only hope for the House Negros still remains the Field Negro.  Whether the House Negros themselves understand that or not is immaterial.

Let me rephrase this in an even more shocking way: the last and only hope for the people of the USA and the EU would be a total Russian victory against NATO.  A NATO defeat will bring down not only NATO itself, but also the EU and that, in turn, would force the US to (finally!) become a normal, civilized, country.

As for the EU, a NATO defeat would mean the end of one thousand years of imperialism.

I get it.  For a civilization built upon the assumption of racial superiority (whether officially proclaimed or not) the notion that the only possible salvation could come from “inferior Asiatic barbarians” is shocking and can only be considered as an extreme form of doubleplusbadcrimethink.  Such a thought is, quite literally, unthinkable for most.

Yet, as I mentioned above, what the House Negros understand or not is entirely irrelevant.  Not only do they have no agency, they want none (Poland anybody?).

Conclusion:

Russia won’t lose this war, most of us understand that.  But to those who don’t, I will offer one simple conclusion: a Russian defeat would be a disaster for Russia.  And China.  And the rest of the planet.  But it will also be a true calamity for the oppressed people of the West.  They, of all people, should be very careful what they wish for. And the next time they want to hallucinate and gloat about a “strategic Russian retreat/defeat” they should ask themselves a simple question: what might this mean for *me* and *my own* future?  Do I really have a reason to rejoice?

Maybe they simply got used to being slaves and the idea of *real* freedom and diversity simply terrifies them?

Andrei

Imran Khan calls on supporters to continue anti-government protests

10 Nov 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan urges his supporters to continue the antigovernmental protests, and notes that “the protest will grow stronger as it approaches the capital, Islamabad.”

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan told his supporters,  on Thursday, via a virtual address that they must “continue the anti-government protests,” a week after he was wounded following an assassination attempt against him.

Earlier, on November 7, the dominant opposition party in Pakistan, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), announced on Monday that the party is scheduled to resume its protest marches on November 9.

Khan insisted that he “will reach Rawalpindi and I invite you all to come and march with us because it is a matter of the future of the country and the future of your children.”

The march was halted on November 3 following an assassination attempt against PTI’s leader, Imran Khan, which left him with a wounded leg. 

Khan addressed a few hundred workers in the eastern city of Wazirabad, the same city where the assassination attempt took place.

In the video, Khan rejected the police version of the incident, saying that “at least two militants carried out what he considered a well-planned attack.”

“Our march will not stop,” Khan said, noting that “the protest will grow stronger as it approaches the capital, Islamabad, and I will not back down as long as I live.”

He did not provide evidence to support his claim, but did refer to occasions on which he spoke at his public rallies in September about the existence of a suspicious plot.

Pakistan floundering after Khan assassination bid
Pakistan has entered a “dangerous phase” following the assassination attempt on former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his accusation that it was a plan involving a senior intelligence officer, according to commentators.

Khan survived an assassination attempt on November 3 while leading supporters on a widely publicized march to the capital to call for early elections.

He said on Friday that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, and Major-General Faisal Nasir, an intelligence officer, intended to assassinate him and blame it on “a religious fanatic.”

“The political situation in Pakistan has entered into a dangerous phase,” said academic and political analyst Tauseef Ahmed Khan, who is also a board member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. “In a country with a history of political chaos, the sounds echo.”

Despite being deposed by a vote of no-confidence in April, Khan retains widespread public support, having won a series of by-elections even as he fights a number of legal proceedings launched by the present government.

As the pressure mounts, the government’s reliance on the country’s “deep state” – a term commonly used to refer to the powerful military – for survival grows, according to Ahmed Khan. “It is a perilous situation — not only for the democratic process but also for the country — especially with regards to economic development,” he said.
“The issue(s) of poverty, hunger, and development fall into the background.”

It is worth noting that Khan has been aiming for legislative elections to take place by October of next year, but a judicial body pertaining to the elections committee announced that the former PM is not qualified to participate as an upcoming candidate or run for office for the next five years. 

Read more: 

Russia Implied That Pakistan Is Colluding With The US To Blackmail The Taliban

Nov 4 2022

Source

By Andrew Korybko

The outcome of this Machiavellian policy is that regional security is jeopardized as a result, which in turn endangers Pakistan’s own objective interests even if its US-captured elite don’t yet realize this. Hopefully patriotic elements within The Establishment will succeed in reversing these counterproductive policies before it’s too late.

Russian Special Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov raised eyebrows earlier this week in an article that he published at Nezavisimaya Gazeta about the war-torn country that he specializes in. According to him, “The Americans are openly blackmailing Taliban leaders, threatening them with a drone attack and forcing them to distance themselves from Russia and China (in this case, they demand that Kabul should refrain from restricting the activities of Afghanistan-based Uyghur militants from the so-called East Turkestan Islamic Movement, designated as a terrorist organization in Russia).”

He didn’t directly say it, but this influential Russian policymaker very strongly implied that Pakistan is colluding with the US with respect to the latter’s blackmail scheme against the Taliban. After all, the drone strikes that Kabulov said that America is holding over that group’s heads as a Damocles’ sword to coerce them into doing its foreign policy bidding are only credible if Pakistan’s post-modern coup regime – which just unsuccessfully attempted to assassinate former Prime Minister Imran Khan – continues at the very least “passively facilitating” those attacks like it’s suspected of doing in early August.

From their perspective, the dangerous security dilemma that their country is presently embroiled in with the Taliban might mean that “the ends justify the means” in order to defend Pakistan’s interests as they understand them to be. That’s a fair point in principle, but everything is actually a lot different in practice considering the context that Kabulov just described. First and foremost, whether Pakistan’s post-modern coup regime realizes it or not, this Damocles’ sword that they’re jointly holding over the Taliban’s heads together with their US patron threatens China’s objective national security interests.

This conclusion is due to the fact that the People’s Republic is adamantly opposed to the ETIM, which it rightly considers to be a terrorist group. Pakistan has also designated that organization accordingly, yet colluding with the US to blackmail the Taliban – even if this is only driven by their dangerous security dilemma and not with any anti-Chinese intentions in mind – inadvertently helps that selfsame terrorist group by contributing to the pressure that Washington’s putting on Afghanistan’s de facto leaders to “refrain from restricting” the ETIM’s terrorist activities there.

The second point proving that all isn’t as simple as it might seem is that Russia has recently emerged as the Taliban’s preferred geo-economic partner. This decision was tacitly made by that group in order to preemptively avert any potentially disproportionate dependence on their Pakistani partners with whom they’re now intensely feuding due to their dangerous security dilemma. Moscow has no intent to impede Islamabad’s own geo-economic engagement in this strategically positioned state since their respective visions are complementary, yet the post-modern coup regime might still be jealous of it.

The artificially manufactured rivalry that the US is conspiring to revive between Russia and Pakistan over Afghanistan leads to the final point about how America envisages its newly restored South Asian vassal catalyzing the region’s grand strategic reorientation in a way that impedes multipolarity. To that end, it’s either blackmailed and/or bribed its proxies in that post-modern coup regime into at the very least “passively facilitating” their drone strikes in Afghanistan, the last one of which Russia worried worsened regional security. If this arrangement remains in place, then Pakistan will be responsible for all that happens.

The resultant destabilization of the broader Central-South-West Asian space surrounding Afghanistan would worsen Pakistan’s own objective national interests as well, hence why it’s counterproductive to its security to continue “passively facilitating” the US’ drone strikes there that Washington is leveraging to blackmail the Taliban. This extremely reckless policy isn’t even popular with the Pakistani masses, yet it’s being promulgated anyhow because America has successfully captured its elite, including those within its Establishment who are supposed to be responsible for defending their country’s interests.

The tragedy that’s unfolding is that the US is regrettably making progress on transforming Pakistan from the “Zipper of Eurasia” into the “Faultline of Eurasia”, with the latest evidence of this being Kabulov’s innuendo that this country is colluding with America to blackmail the Taliban. The outcome of this Machiavellian policy is that regional security is jeopardized as a result, which in turn endangers Pakistan’s own objective interests even if its US-captured elite don’t yet realize this. Hopefully patriotic elements within The Establishment will succeed in reversing these counterproductive policies before it’s too late.

The Assassination Attempt Against Imran Khan Exposes

Nov 4 2022

Source

By Andrew Korybko

Whichever of these three courses of action they choose to go through with, there’s no denying that the strategic inertia is decisively against The Establishment’s elite echelons, who already lost their Hybrid War/Fifth Generational War (5GW) against the Pakistani people. They can either go with the flow by finally allowing the masses to democratically choose their leader, or temporarily delay this inevitability by continuing to conspire against them or even literally risking a civil conflict by directly attacking them.

State-Sponsored Threats

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was ousted through a US-orchestrated post-modern coup in early spring as punishment for his independent foreign policy, narrowly survived an assassination attempt on Thursday. He was leading his promised Long March from Lahore to Islamabad along with thousands of his supporters to demand free and fair elections as early as possible. Prior to the former premier setting off, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah threatened to “hang him upside down.”

Defaming The Former Premier

It’s little wonder then that the most popular political figure in Pakistan, whose party continues to sweep every by-election that they’ve participated in since April, blamed Sanaullah, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, and Chief of ISI’s Counter-Intelligence Major General Faisal Naseer for trying to kill him. The first already telegraphed his intentions in the prior example and others, the second has an obvious stake in stopping his opponent, and the third was evidently ordered to carry out this dirty deed.

Outside observers might wonder why the head of the country’s counter-intelligence would be tasked with this but it actually makes sense from the perspective through which The Establishment – which is Pakistani parlance for this state’s powerful military-intelligence services – regards the former premier. The weaponized information warfare narrative that its elite echelons have encouraged their media and political proxies to gaslight the public into believing over the past half-year is that he’s a “terrorist”.

After all, Imran Khan was ridiculously charged under the country’s “Anti-Terrorism Act” after announcing his intent to file court cases against those officials who he alleged had abused one of his top aides in custody. The Establishment’s elite echelons have attempted to frame the former premier as a so-called “anti-state extremist” who’s allegedly conspiring to “incite mutiny” and is “defaming” state institutions. These lies were invented simply because he’s actively seeks to reverse this spring’s regime change.

From Fake News To A Failed Assassination

To be absolutely clear, Imran Khan envisages doing this through purely peaceful and political means connected to his country’s constitutional processes, not through violence, terrorism, or disinformation. All that he and his tens of millions of patriotic supporters demand is free and fair elections as early as possible so that the Pakistani people themselves can directly decide who they want to lead them. This noble goal perfectly aligns with the purest democratic principles, yet that’s precisely why he’s a “threat”.

Those domestic collaborators who colluded with the US to overthrow the former premier know fully well how unpopular their post-modern coup is, which is why they’ve had to resort to increasingly despotic, dictatorial, and ultimately dystopian means to cling to power. Free and fair elections as early as possible would reverse the regime change against Imran Khan, after which the conspirators would likely be out of a job at best or prosecuted at worst if they don’t flee abroad first.

After having lost complete control of the country’s socio-political (soft security) dynamics as a result of the post-modern coup that they helped carry out and everything that unfolded afterwards, The Establishment’s elite echelons panicked and thus decided to eliminate Imran Khan. They could have presumably sought to cut some sort of deal with him for ensuring their early retirement with amnesty in exchange for holding free and fair elections as early as possible but probably feared the US’ reaction.

Martial Law Motives

It shouldn’t be forgotten that those who were responsible for this regime change, which includes The Establishment’s elite echelons who infamously remained “neutral” and thus “passively facilitated” it, are politically (and possibly economically) indebted to the US. Complying with the former premier’s demand without first receiving the US’ approval – which could in theory have been granted if it decided to cut its losses with early elections instead of risk Pakistan’s destabilization – might be very dangerous.

That’s not to excuse their attempt to assassinate him but simply to explain their likely thought process. In any case, the decision was made to eliminate Imran Khan once he commenced his promised Long March since The Establishment’s elite echelons expected that the only other way to stop it would be to order the use of lethal force against those thousands of peaceful protesters once they entered the capital. The resultant bloodshed would have prompted martial law and led to international isolation.

Of course, the obvious recourse would simply have been to have their political proxies organize free and fair elections as early as possible as the most responsible pressure valve, but this wasn’t ever seriously considered for the earlier mentioned reasons. Moving along, The Establishment’s elite echelons expected that the former premier would be successfully assassinated, after which his supporters would predictably riot and thus create the pretext for imposing martial law without international isolation.

In other words, the decision was already made to formally reimpose military rule over Pakistan in order to prevent free and fair elections from being held as early as possible, though The Establishment’s elite echelons needed to craft a so-called “publicly plausible” pretext first. Absent that, and especially in the event that the Long March reached the capital and thus resulted in them ordering the use of lethal force against peaceful protesters, there’d be international isolation and possibly even sanctions.

The Three Most Likely Scenarios

The “solution” was to organize the former premier’s assassination, blame it on a “lone wolf” patsy, impose martial law in response to his supporters predictably rioting afterwards, and then possibly even outlaw his party on the false basis that they’re supposedly “anti-state extremists”. This plot failed by a stroke of luck, which now places The Establishment’s elite echelon in a dilemma since they lost their only chance at manufacturing the pretext for imposing martial law without international consequences.

Their dirty game was exposed and the entire world now suspects that something foul is afoot since the sequence of events that everyone expected to transpire in the event that this assassination plot succeeded is obvious to all objective observers. Since Imran Khan survived and promised that his Long March to Islamabad will continue no matter what, The Establishment’s elite echelons are now forced into a zugzwang, which refers to a situation in chess where all possible moves are disadvantageous.

They can either finally do the politically right thing by having their proxies organize free and fair elections as early as possible (though at the expense of their self-interests as was previously explained); try to concoct another clearly manufactured pretext for imposing martial law (though this time possibly with international consequences since everyone is now aware of their intentions); or just outright “go rogue” by using lethal force against the peaceful protesters after no longer giving a damn what happens.

The Establishment’s Elite Echelons Already Lost (Even If They Don’t Know It Yet)

Whichever of these three courses of action they choose to go through with, there’s no denying that the strategic inertia is decisively against The Establishment’s elite echelons, who already lost their Hybrid War/Fifth Generational War (5GW) against the Pakistani people. They can either go with the flow by finally allowing the masses to democratically choose their leader, or temporarily delay this inevitability by continuing to conspire against them or even literally risking a civil conflict by directly attacking them.

In any case, The Establishment’s elite echelons have lost all legitimacy after their unsuccessful assassination plot against Imran Khan. The battle for hearts and minds is over after having been decisively won by the former premier and his supporters, who pushed their foreign-backed institutional opponents into the corner through their peaceful political protests and thus caused them to overreact by practically declaring war on the same 220+ million people who they’re supposed to represent.

The best-case scenario is that those among The Establishment’s elite echelons who are responsible for this egregious violation of the people’s trust, which indisputably crossed the latter’s red line, accept their defeat by allowing democracy to prevail without continuing to try to dangerously obstruct it in vain. No sincerely patriotic member of The Establishment would risk throwing Pakistan into pandemonium by continuing to conspire against its people, let alone seriously countenance waging war against them.

Concluding Thoughts

Pakistan is literally in the throes of a peaceful political revolution led by grassroots patriots who want to liberate their beloved country from the foreign yoke that’s been imposed upon it since the US-orchestrated post-modern coup. Those elite members of The Establishment who are responsible for that regime change and all that came afterwards, especially the attempted assassination of Imran Khan, need to do the right thing in order to save the same country that they dedicated their lives to serving.

Why India is arming Armenia against Azerbaijan

Trade routes and national security interests in the South Caucasus are central to New Delhi’s decision to arm Armenia

October 15 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Yeghia Tashjian

After the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war and the shift in the South Caucasus balance of power toward Turkey, India has expressed concern that its vision to connect Europe and Russia to its Indian ports through the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) could be jeopardized.

From New Delhi’s perspective, the increase of Turkish influence in the region is particularly troublesome given its arch-enemy Pakistan’s excellent ties with Ankara, and Islamabad’s support of Baku during the Nagarno-Karabakh war.

It was within this context that India joined Iran to send harsh diplomatic messages to Azerbaijan during the conflict. On several occasions, New Delhi called on Baku to pull back its forces from Armenia “immediately” and refrain from further provocation.

These concerns became all the more pressing when following its victory in the war, Azerbaijan launched an incursion on Armenia’s sovereign territory in May 2021 – and again in September 2022 – by attacking Armenian bordering villages killing more than 200 soldiers and civilians.

When Baku launched the September attack, Arindam Bagchi, the spokesperson of India’s Ministry of External Affairs, weighed in, urging “peace and stability in the South Caucasus region” as vital from a “regional security perspective.”

Similarly, on 15 September, after Azerbaijan’s attack on Armenia, India’s representative to the UNSC meeting called on the “aggressor to immediately cease hostilities.”

India fills the Russian vacuum

The reason behind India’s unease over continued instability in the region is largely over fears that it may threaten the security of the INSTC, where both India and Iran are encouraging Armenia to play an important role connecting the Persian Gulf to the Black Sea.

Concerned that the budding Turkish-Azerbaijani-Pakistani axis would endanger its grand connectivity project and become more assertive in other regions such as Kashmir, India stepped in to fill the void left by Russia’s Ukraine-distraction to secure its regional geopolitical and geo-economic interests by striking an arms trade with Yerevan.

While Armenia had shown interest in Indian military hardware prior to the 2020 Nagarno-Karabakh war, it was only in that year that Yerevan stepped up to sign a $40 million arms deal with New Delhi for the supply of four SWATHI weapons detection radars.

The radar system has been designed to the specifications of the Indian Army: to track incoming artillery shells, mortars, and rockets and provide pinpoint locations of enemy launchers and positions.

Since June 2022, rumors had swirled that Armenia was quietly negotiating the purchase of Indian drones, anti-drone air defense systems, and rocket launchers. The speculation was confirmed in late September when Indian media reported that New Delhi will be exporting missiles, rockets, ammunition, anti-tank missiles (ATGM), and the indigenous Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launcher (MBRL) system to Armenia.

These weapons alone are not sufficient to boost Armenia’s defense capabilities: both the Pinaka MBRL system and the ATGM are unable to combat the Turkish or Israeli-made drones in Baku’s arsenal, as Armenia lacks proper air defense mechanisms.

Indian military experts and former generals argue that the Pinaka alone is not sufficient as Armenia needs “BrahMos” and “Akash” missiles to “break the opponents’ teeth.”

“In war, hammers aren’t the right way ahead to kill flies. One must carry out a threat assessment, after which the correct weapons can be chosen. A ‘transparent’ battlefield allows wise choices to be made. An Indian assessment team could identify the real battlefield problems and then suggest what India could provide at a reasonable cost.”

Defense against drones

This argument correctly assesses the outcome of the 2020 war in which Turkish Bayraktar drones decimated entire Armenian tank columns and rocket launchers, as Yerevan lacked an air defense system to hinder the drone attacks.

These experts argue that Armenia should therefore seek to purchase India’s indigenous “Akash” missile system, a surface-to-air system has been proven to successfully intercept drones and aircraft, which would enhance Armenia’s immunity against future drone operations.

Nevertheless, such improvements would still not be enough to significantly alter the regional balance of power.

Furthermore, Israel, a country heavily invested in Indian defense capabilities, may also have a say in some of these arms exports. Tel Aviv’s close relationship with Azerbaijan to counter Iran in the South Caucasus may ultimately prevent or restrict the sale of heavy weapons to Armenia.

What’s behind the arms deal?

After the 2020 war, Armenia became politically and economically isolated in the region. Yerevan’s failure to seize the opportunity presented by China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – largely due to poor infrastructure – left out a major Asian power that could have invested heavily, both politically and economically, in the country. 

Instead, in India, Yerevan has found a means to diversify its economic and political ties – a prudent move, as India views Beijing’s BRI initiative as a rival project to its INSTC.

On another front, Beijing is also advancing its Middle Corridor (also known as the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, or TITR), connecting mainland China with Central Asia via Kazakhstan, and then onto Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey, before heading to Europe. This corridor is also crucial for Europe as it bypasses Russia.

The importance of this corridor became significant as Azerbaijan and Turkey began pressuring Armenia to give up its southern border with Iran and establish the strategic Zangezur Corridor where Azerbaijan would be directly linked to Turkey.

This alarmed both Iran and India, who realized that their mutual geo-economic interests would be threatened along their north-south trade routes.

For this reason, Tehran and New Delhi began to actively urge Yerevan’s participation in the INSTC and the Iranian-backed Black Sea – Persian Gulf Transport Corridor initiatives. Among the benefits of joining the INSTC, Armenia will have transport access to the Iranian Chabahar Port, the Persian Gulf, and Indian markets.

Beyond business

Geopolitical considerations also factor into India’s growing presence in the region. Pranab Dhal Samanra opined in India’s Economic Times that New Delhi cannot ignore the dangerous adventures of the “three Brothers” (Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Pakistan) in Armenia and elsewhere.

The author argues that Turkey and Azerbaijan have always supported Pakistan against India over the issue of Kashmir, and in return, Pakistan has fully-backed Azerbaijan in its war with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh.

According to Samanra, if this axis is cemented in the South Caucasus it will move southwards and the “three brothers” will act jointly in other theaters – including ‘Pakistan-occupied Kashmir’ – given their “existing political understanding on the subject.”

India is also concerned that Pakistan may bring China into this axis, which will undermine India’s national security. Hence, it is in “India’s interest that Armenia puts up a stand and not be trampled upon because of a power vacuum (in South Caucasus) caused by Russia’s preoccupation in Ukraine.”

Countering Baku or proxy against Pakistan?

Both India and Armenia stand to benefit from these arms deals. If the Indian weapons prove effective in battle, it could boost India’s prestige in the global defense industry and increase interest by other states to procure arms from New Delhi.

Moreover, by arming Armenia, India can use the country as a deterrent force against the emerging Turkish-Azerbaijani-Pakistani axis. Aside from Afghanistan, Armenia will be the first near-abroad counterweight against Islamabad’s activities deemed to pose a threat to India’s security interests.

By strengthening its current ties with New Delhi, Armenia can become a strategically significant partner for India, where the latter can establish commercial and defense hubs for joint Armenian-Iranian-Indian goods to be exported to Russia and Europe.

Armenia, firmly embedded within Russia’s sphere of influence, will serve as an additional advantage for India, as this flourishing partnership would further boost India’s north-south economic corridor in the South Caucasus.

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

The flood caused heavy damage to Pakistan.

September 12, 2022

Source

by Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan

Preliminary estimates show that the country has already suffered heavy damages, including a death toll of more than 1000 precious lives, injured around 2000 persons, and damaged houses, crops, animals, and property. Initial estimates show it is worth $5.5 billion. But, it is just an initial report, and heavy rains are expected next few days. It is scary that the actual damages might be much more than the official figures as the compilation of actual data is a rather difficult and time taking matter.

In Sindh and Punjab provinces, sugarcane and cotton crops have been destroyed completely while onion, tomato, and Kharif chilies have been partially damaged. The loss of cotton crops alone has been estimated at $2.6 billion. Experts believe Pakistan’s textile and sugar export could drop by $1 billion.

At least 2 million tonnes of wheat stored at the government’s warehouses in Sindh have been spoiled due to rains and floods, threatening the country’s food security, seriously.

The destruction in the agriculture sector means that Pakistan will not only encounter a supply shortage for industries but there could also be a seed crisis in the country.

Officials have estimated that over 800,000 cattle heads have been lost to rains and floods this season.

The floods have also destroyed road and communication networks in four provinces. Officials have put the estimated damages at $2 billion.

The damage suffered by under construction Mohmand dam and headworks at different locations has added to the flood losses.

In 2022, Pakistan received higher rainfall than usual. The province of Sindh received 784% higher rain than usual and Baluchistan received 500% more rain than normal. Higher than average monsoon rains were also recorded in India and Bangladesh. The Indian Ocean is one of the fastest warming regions in the world, warming by an average of 1°C (as opposed to the global warming average of 0.7°C). The rise in sea surface temperatures is believed to increase monsoon rainfall. In addition, southern Pakistan experienced back-to-back heat waves in May and June, which were record-setting and themselves made more likely by climate change. These created a strong thermal low that brought heavier rains than usual. The heatwaves also triggered glacial flooding in Gilgit Baltistan.

Heavy monsoon rainfall and floods have affected 30 million people in Pakistan since mid-June, destroying nearly 218,000 houses and damaging some two million more. Sindh and Baluchistan are the two most affected provinces in terms of human and infrastructural impact. Millions of livestock have been killed, most of them in the province of Baluchistan, while the destruction of over 3,600 km of roads and 145 bridges has impeded access across flood-affected areas. Over 17,560 schools were damaged or destroyed as well. At the request of the Baluchistan Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), a multi-sectoral rapid needs assessment was undertaken in 10 districts of Baluchistan to identify priority needs and gaps across sectors. Humanitarian partners are supporting the government-led response in affected areas, redirecting existing resources to meet the most urgent needs while working to further scale up the response.

Pakistan has declared a national emergency and seeking assistance from the International community. Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood had a briefing session with Pakistan’s Ambassadors/heads of Missions in various capitals regarding the current calamity faced by the nation due to unprecedented monsoon floods. He highlighted the efforts led by the Government of Pakistan with the help of development partners including the United Nations, IFIs, and many countries and organizations to address the daunting challenges posed by the devastating floods. The Foreign Secretary emphasized the importance of coordinated and concerted efforts for rescue and relief in the immediate phase to be followed by reconstruction and rehabilitation in the long term. The holistic needs assessment carried out by the Government of Pakistan in coordination with the UN Country Team was shared along with details of the loss of life and damage done to infrastructure and property. It was important to mitigate the inter-related impacts of the floods including food shortage, communicable diseases, loss of shelter, non-availability of water and sanitation facilities, etc.

The Foreign Secretary urged the Missions to play a proactive role in mobilizing resources and humanitarian assistance from the Pakistani diaspora and the international community to support the national efforts. The Ambassadors were also briefed about the UN Flash Appeal to be launched on 30 August simultaneously in Geneva and Islamabad.

The Ambassadors were briefed on the wide range of activities being undertaken by them to enhance international awareness and garner support for the rescue and relief efforts of the Government. Views were exchanged on close coordination, swift information-sharing, and a range of actions to be taken in support of the ongoing operations.

The people of Pakistan have always shown exemplary resilience, brotherhood, compassion, generosity, and commitment in the wake of such natural disasters. Pakistan is amongst the top ten disaster-prone countries due to climate change and the recent flash floods are another manifestation of this fact. It is important that the international community shows solidarity with Pakistan and reinforces its national efforts in combating the impacts of such natural disasters.

However, despite early warnings, the Government was unable to take preventive measures. Experts have advised the Government much earlier that heavy floods are expected this year. My articles: “Climate Change has a severe impact on Pakistan” https://www.globalvillagespace.com/climate-change-has-a-severe-impact-on-pakistan/ and “Collective efforts are required to address the wildfire issue”. http://www.southasia.com.pk/2022/06/13/taming-the-fire/ may be referred.

Although Pakistan’s economy was not in a good shape to take absolute preventive measures, the priority of the government and will was also questionable. The Government indulged in unnecessary political turmoil and kept flood warnings aside.

Our sympathies are with the victims and their families. May Allah forgive all the dead ones, and pray for the quick recovery of the injured person. Being the most philanthropist nation, it is urged that all individuals may extend a helping hand generously. Donate in cash or in kind to the right and deserving person or through trustworthy and reliable NGOs, or organizations. May Allah reward you.

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

Asia’s future takes shape in Vladivostok, the Russian Pacific

September 08, 2022

by Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and widely cross-posted

Sixty-eight countries gathered on Russia’s far eastern coast to listen to Moscow’s economic and political vision for the Asia-Pacific

The Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok is one of the indispensable annual milestones for keeping up not only with the complex development process of the Russian Far East but major plays for Eurasia integration.

Mirroring an immensely turbulent 2022, the current theme in Vladivostok is ‘On the Path to a Multipolar World.’ Russian President Vladimir Putin himself, in a short message to business and government participants from 68 nations, set the stage:

“The obsolete unipolar model is being replaced by a new world order based on the fundamental principles of justice and equality, as well as the recognition of the right of each state and people to their own sovereign path of development. Powerful political and economic centers are taking shape right here in the Asia-Pacific region, acting as a driving force in this irreversible process.”

In his speech to the EEF plenary session, Ukraine was barely mentioned. Putin’s response when asked about it: “Is this country part of Asia-Pacific?”

The speech was largely structured as a serious message to the collective west, as well as to what top analyst Sergey Karaganov calls the “global majority.” Among several takeaways, these may be the most relevant:

  • Russia as a sovereign state will defend its interests.
  • Western sanctions ‘fever’ is threatening the world – and economic crises are not going away after the pandemic.
  • The entire system of international relations has changed. There is an attempt to maintain world order by changing the rules.
  • Sanctions on Russia are closing down businesses in Europe. Russia is coping with economic and tech aggression from the west.
  • Inflation is breaking records in developed countries. Russia is looking at around 12 percent.
  • Russia has played its part in grain exports leaving Ukraine, but most shipments went to EU nations and not developing countries.
  • The “welfare of the ‘Golden Billion’ is being ignored.”
  • The west is in no position to dictate energy prices to Russia.
  • Ruble and yuan will be used for gas payments.
  • The role of Asia-Pacific has significantly increased.

In a nutshell: Asia is the new epicenter of technological progress and productivity.

No more an ‘object of colonization’ 

Taking place only two weeks before another essential annual gathering – the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand – it is no wonder some of the top discussions at the EEF revolve around the increasing economic interpolation between the SCO and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

This theme is as crucial as the development of the Russian Arctic: at 41 percent of total territory, that’s the largest resource base in the federation, spread out over nine regions, and encompassing the largest Special Economic Zone (SEZ) on the planet, linked to the free port of Vladivostok. The Arctic is being developed via several strategically important projects processing mineral, energy, water and biological natural resources.

So it’s perfectly fitting that Austria’s former foreign minister Karin Kneissel, self-described as “a passionate historian,” quipped about her fascination at how Russia and its Asian partners are tackling the development of the Northern Sea Route: “One of my favorite expressions is that airlines and pipelines are moving east. And I keep saying this for twenty years.”

Amidst a wealth of roundtables exploring everything from the power of territory, supply chains and global education to “the three whales” (science, nature, human), arguably the top discussion this Tuesday at the forum was centered on the role of the SCO.

Apart from the current full members – Russia, China, India, Pakistan, four Central Asians (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan), plus the recent accession of Iran – no less than 11 further nations want to join, from observer Afghanistan to dialogue partner Turkey.

Grigory Logvinov, the SCO’s deputy secretary general, stressed how the economic, political and scientific potential of players comprising “the center of gravity” for Asia – over a quarter of the world’s GDP, 50 percent of the world’s population – has not been fully harvested yet.

Kirill Barsky, from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, explained how the SCO is actually the model of multipolarity, according to its charter, compared to the backdrop of “destructive processes” launched by the west.

And that leads to the economic agenda in the Eurasian integration progress, with the Russian-led Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) configured as the SCO’s most important partner.

Barsky identifies the SCO as “the core Eurasian structure, forming the agenda of Greater Eurasia within a network of partnership organizations.” That’s where the importance of the cooperation with ASEAN comes in.

Barsky could not but evoke Mackinder, Spykman and Brzezinski – who regarded Eurasia “as an object to be acted upon the wishes of western states, confined within the continent, away from the ocean shores, so the western world could dominate in a global confrontation of land and sea. The SCO as it developed can triumph over these negative concepts.”

And here we hit a notion widely shared from Tehran to Vladivostok:

Eurasia no longer as “an object of colonization by ‘civilized Europe’ but again an agent of global policy.”

‘India wants a 21st Asian century’

Sun Zuangnzhi from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) elaborated on China’s interest in the SCO. He focused on achievements: In the 21 years since its founding, a mechanism to establish security between China, Russia and Central Asian states evolved into “multi-tiered, multi-sector cooperation mechanisms.”

Instead of “turning into a political instrument,” the SCO should capitalize on its role of dialogue forum for states with a difficult history of conflicts – “interactions are sometimes difficult” – and focus on economic cooperation “on health, energy, food security, reduction of poverty.”

Rashid Alimov, a former SCO secretary general, now a professor at the Taihe Institute, stressed the “high expectations” from Central Asian nations, the core of the organization. The original idea remains – based on the indivisibility of security on a trans-regional level in Eurasia.

Well, we all know how the US and NATO reacted when Russia late last year proposed a serious dialogue on “indivisibility of security.”

As Central Asia does not have an outlet to the sea, it is inevitable, as Alimov stressed, that Uzbekistan’s foreign policy privileges involvement in accelerated intra-SCO trade. Russia and China may be the leading investors, and now “Iran also plays an important role. Over 1,200 Iranian companies are working in Central Asia.”

Connectivity, once again, must increase: “The World Bank rates Central Asia as one of the least connected economies in the world.”

Sergey Storchak of Russian bank VEB explained the workings of the “SCO interbank consortium.” Partners have used “a credit line from the Bank of China” and want to sign a deal with Uzbekistan. The SCO interbank consortium will be led by the Indians on a rotation basis – and they want to step up its game. At the upcoming summit in Samarkand, Storchak expects a road map for the transition towards the use of national currencies in regional trade.

Kumar Rajan from the School of International Studies of the Jawaharlal Nehru University articulated the Indian position. He went straight to the point: “India wants a 21st Asian century. Close cooperation between India and China is necessary. They can make the Asian century happen.”

Rajan remarked how India does not see the SCO as an alliance, but committed to the development and political stability of Eurasia.

He made the crucial point about connectivity revolving around India “working with Russia and Central Asia with the INSTC” – the International North South Transportation Corridor, and one of its key hubs, the Chabahar port in Iran: “India does not have direct physical connectivity with Central Asia. The INSTC has the participation of an Iranian shipping line with 300 vessels, connecting to Mumbai. President Putin, in the [recent] Caspian meeting, referred directly to the INSTC.”

Crucially, India not only supports the Russian concept of Greater Eurasia Partnership but is engaged in setting up a free trade agreement with the EAEU: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, incidentally, came to the Vladivostok forum last year.

In all of the above nuanced interventions, some themes are constant. After the Afghanistan disaster and the end of the US occupation there, the stabilizing role of the SCO cannot be overstated enough. An ambitious road map for cooperation is a must – probably to be approved at the Samarkand summit. All players will be gradually changing to trade in bilateral currencies. And creation of transit corridors is leading to the progressive integration of national transit systems.

Let there be light

A key roundtable on the ‘Gateway to a Multipolar World’ expanded on the SCO role, outlining how most Asian nations are “friendly” or “benevolently neutral” when it comes to Russia after the start of the Special Military Operation (SMO) in Ukraine.

So the possibilities for expanding cooperation across Eurasia remain practically unlimited. Complementarity of economies is the main factor. That would lead, among other developments, to the Russian Far East, as a multipolar hub, turning into “Russia’s gateway to Asia” by the 2030s.

Wang Wen from the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies stressed the need for Russia to rediscover China – finding “mutual trust in the middle level and elites level”. At the same time, there’s a sort of global rush to join BRICS, from Saudi Arabia and Iran to Afghanistan and Argentina:

“That means a new civilization model for emerging economies like China and Argentina because they want to rise up peacefully (…) I think we are in the new civilization age.”

B. K. Sharma from the United Service Institution of India got back to Spykman pigeonholing the nation as a rimland state. Not anymore: India now has multiple strategies, from connecting to Central Asia to the ‘Act East’ policy. Overall, it’s an outreach to Eurasia, as India “is not competitive and needs to diversify to get better access to Eurasia, with logistical help from Russia.“

Sharma stresses how India takes SCO, BRICS and RICs very seriously while seeing Russia playing “an important role in the Indian Ocean.” He nuances the Indo-Pacific outlook: India does not want Quad as a military alliance, privileging instead “interdependence and complementarity between India, Russia and China.”

All of these discussions interconnect with the two overarching themes in several Vladivostok roundtables: energy and the development of the Arctic’s natural resources.

Pavel Sorokin, Russian First Deputy Minister of Energy, dismissed the notion of a storm or typhoon in the energy markets: “It’s a far cry from a natural process. It’s a man-made situation.” The Russian economy, in contrast, is seen by most analysts as slowly but surely designing its Arctic/Asian cooperation future – including, for instance, the creation of a sophisticated trans-shipment infrastructure for Liquified Natural Gas (LNG).

Energy Minister Nikolay Shulginov made sure that Russia will actually increase its gas production, considering the rise of LNG deliveries and the construction of Power of Siberia-2 to China: “We will not merely scale up the pipeline capacity but we will also expand LNG production: it has mobility and excellent purchases on the global market.”

On the Northern Sea Route, the emphasis is on building a powerful, modern icebreaker fleet – including nuclear. Gadzhimagomed Guseynov, First Deputy Minister for the Development of the Far East and the Arctic, is adamant: “What Russia has to do is to make the Northern Sea Route a sustainable and important transit route.”

There is a long-term plan up to 2035 to create infrastructure for safe shipping navigation, following an ‘Arctic best practices’ of learning step by step. NOVATEK, according to its deputy chairman Evgeniy Ambrosov, has been conducting no less than a revolution in terms of Arctic navigation and shipbuilding in the last few years.

Kniessel, the former Austrian minister, recalled that she always missed the larger geopolitical picture in her discussions when she was active in European politics (she now lives in Lebanon): “I wrote about the passing of the torch from Atlanticism to the Pacific. Airlines, pipelines and waterways are moving East. The Far East is actually Pacific Russia.”

Whatever Atlanticists may think of it, the last word for the moment might belong to Vitaly Markelov, from the board of directors of Gazprom: Russia is ready for winter. There will be warmth and light everywhere.”

Biden Regime Behind Phony Charges Against Pakistan’s Imran Khan

08-22-2022

 Stephen Lendman

Last April, Biden regime dirty hands were behind a parliamentary no-confidence vote to oust Imran Khan as Pakistan’s PM.

What happened was all about his commitment to serve Pakistan’s interests over US ones, to stay neutral on Russia’s SMO in Ukraine, and maintain Islamabad’s independence over vassalage to a higher power in Washington.

US puppet, Shehbaz Sharif, was illegitimately installed as PM to replace Khan.

That’s where things now stand, his regime’s agenda shaped by hegemon USA.

It includes prevention of legitimate attempts by Khan to regain the office from which hegemon USA orchestrated his ouster — by whatever it takes to achieve this diabolical aim.

On Sunday, the puppet Sharif regime falsely charged Khan with violating Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism (Act) — for allegedly “threatening” a female judge and senior police officers at a public rally.

So-called Pakistani interior minister, Rana Sanaullah, also called for Khan to be prosecuted for allegedly making “derogatory” remarks about Pakistani military Shuhada (martyrs).

Khan said the following at a Sunday rally:

“On May 25, when police used violence against us, I was told by insiders that (what happened was) ordered from above.”

This “means that neutrals pressured them to give…workers (of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party — PTI — he foundered and heads as chairman) a thrashing.” 

Referring to the country’s military, he questioned whether its “neutrals were really neutral” — that in cahoots with the Biden regime, they’re involved in cracking down on him and his PTI party, adding:

“I know what their plan is.”

It’s all about removing him from the political scene by prosecuting and imprisoning him on false charges, along with sidelining his PTI party, rendering it powerless.

Until targeted by Biden regime dark forces, likely CIA ones, the PTI was Pakistan’s “biggest party at the federal level,” Khan explained, adding:

His chief of staff, Shahbaz Gill, was kidnapped, abused and heavily pressured to give false testimony against him.

According to Dawn.com, Khan’s public addresses are now banned on television — on the phony pretext of making controversial remarks (sic) about judges and police officials.

Google’s YouTube acted in similar fashion to silence his truth-telling.

On Sunday, senior PTI leader, Shireen Mazari, tweeted the following:

“Regime change conspirators so scared of Imran Khan that today in middle of IK speech they blocked YouTube thru PTA. Shameful!””This will not silence us.”

“Fascism at its peak as fear overwhelms the cabal of crooks & their string pullers!”

“THE WORD IS CERTAINLY MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD.”

Separately, she explained that police ceased providing security for Khan and his residence.

In his Saturday evening address, he threatened legal action against  Islamabad’s police inspector general and deputy inspector general, adding:

Greatly biased against him for contrived reasons, the judiciary and judge Zeba Chaudhry will face consequences for their actions.  

Late Sunday, Pakistani police erected barricades outside Khan’s Banigala residence to isolate him from supporters.

After his Sunday address, he was reportedly at an undisclosed Rawalpindi location — while thousands of supporters were outside his residence to express support.

Phony charges against Khan in a so-called First Investigation Report (FIR) said the following:

His public remarks “spread fear and uncertainty among the police, judges and the nation.”

It calls for “exemplary punishment.”

At this time, Khan faces arrest, a kangaroo show trial, rubber-stamp conviction and imprisonment for truth-telling on phony terrorism-related charges.

Earlier, the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner said there are over 17,000 pending cases under Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Act, adding:

It’s “broad definition…coupled with failure to introduce clear guidelines or administrative policies to prevent its arbitrary application, contributed to the overuse, misuse and abuse of this legislation.”

Since his made-in-the-USA no-confidence vote removal from office as Pakistan’s PM, Khan organized and addressed well-attended rallies to set the record straight on what’s going on in the country.

It’s why the empire of lies and puppet Pakistani regime it empowered wants him silenced — most likely the old-fashioned way if what’s going on now fails or falls short.

The Stephen Lendman Blog

Biden Regime Behind Phony Charges Against Pakistan’s Imran Khan?

by Stephen Lendman

Last April, Biden regime dirty hands were behind a parliamentary no-confidence vote — a coup by other means — to oust Imran Khan as Pakistan’s PM.

What happened was all about his commitment to serve Pakistan’s interests over US ones, to stay neutral on Russia’s SMO in Ukraine, and maintain Islamabad’s independence over vassalage to a higher power in Washington.

US puppet, Shehbaz Sharif, was illegitimately installed as PM to replace Khan.

That’s where things now stand, his regime’s agenda shaped by hegemon USA.

It includes prevention of legitimate attempts by Khan to regain the office from which hegemon USA orchestrated his ouster — by whatever it takes to achieve this diabolical aim.

On Sunday, the puppet Sharif regime falsely charged Khan with violating Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism (Act) — for allegedly “threatening” a female judge and senior police officers…

View original post 530 more words

Imran Khan Is Right To Imply That The Establishment Is Responsible For Pakistan’s Problems

Aug 19 2022

Source

By Andrew Korybko

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s strong innuendo about The Establishment’s responsibility for the cascading crises that unfolded over the past four months is accurate and grounded in facts since it was veritably the case that they at the very least passively facilitated this sequence of events by infamously remaining “neutral” in the face of the US-orchestrated but domestically driven post-modern coup against him that was carried out as punishment for his independent foreign policy.

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was ousted in a US-orchestrated but domestically driven post-modern coup four months ago, shared some candid views about the cascading crises that have plagued Pakistan since his removal. In his strongly implied view, the country’s powerful military-intelligence structures known as The Establishment are responsible for everything that transpired since they at the very least passively facilitated the rise of power of the same political forces that they themselves had earlier condemned as corrupt, according to his latest remarks that were reported by Dawn.

The PTI chief reminded them that “with great power comes great responsibility. No matter how many times you call yourself neutral, history will blame you for what you did with the country.” Nevertheless, he also suggested that “You should review and think that there are 220 million people in this country”, which hints that he still has some faint hope that the multipolar school of thought within The Establishment might still successfully convince their powerful pro-American peers to change course in order to save Pakistan from the plethora of worst-case scenarios that it nowadays worryingly faces.

This multipolar pioneer’s assessment of his country’s complicated situation is accurate since The Establishment did indeed infamously remain “neutral” in the face of what he compelling argued was a foreign-backed plot to unseat him as punishment for the independent foreign policy that he proudly promulgated, especially its Eurasian dimension with respect to comprehensively expanding relations with Russia. The declining American hegemon’s grand strategic goal is to slow down the global systemic transition to multipolarity, to which end it sought to “poach” Pakistan back into its camp.

The Power Of The Pakistani People Will Defeat Their Unpopular Imported Government”, however, since this regime cannot remain in power forever without their support no matter how aggressively it tries to intimidate them into accepting their country’s subservience to the US. The post-modern coup authorities’ multifaceted attacks against the opposition, which includes the torture of dissident leaders like Shahbaz Gill and the spreading of fake news by top officials falsely claiming that the former premier is trying to divide the army, are counterproductive and only exacerbate popular resentment.

Those members of The Establishment who have a solid grasp of Pakistan’s socio-political (soft security) dynamics must know by know that their country’s present trajectory is trending towards more profound instability in the coming future unless it urgently changes course. It’s for that reason why former Prime Minister Khan called upon them to review their previous “neutrality”, which hints at his faint hope that they’ll do what’s needed behind the scenes to ensure that free and fair elections are held as early as possible in order to democratically resolve the cascading crises that they’re responsible for provoking.

At the same time, he isn’t putting all his eggs in one basket since this lifelong activist also announced that he’ll be holding multiple community meetings (jalsas) across the country in the coming weeks. The former premier acutely understands that the Pakistani people deserve the right to directly decide who leads them after some of their representatives betrayed their mandate by voting to oust him in early April as a result of American meddling in that South Asian state’s democracy. Few could have expected that The Establishment would stand aside while that happened, yet that’s precisely what transpired.

For that reason, former Prime Minister Khan’s strong innuendo about The Establishment’s responsibility for the cascading crises that unfolded over the past four months is accurate and grounded in facts since it was veritably the case that they at the very least passively facilitated this sequence of events. It therefore follows that they also have the responsibility to correct their prior error of judgement by letting the people in whose name they serve democratically decide which political forces they want to lead their shared homeland. The Establishment should therefore seriously consider his advice.

Imran Khan’s arrest will derail Pakistan’s democracy

When the nation’s most popular leader in living memory is also the state’s public enemy number one, what will become of Pakistan?

August 23 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Ejaz Akram

Prominent defense analyst and former Pakistani military officer Haider Mehdi has vociferously claimed that Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa colluded with US authorities to topple the Imran Khan government on 9 April.

While much of the Pakistani masses and social media seem to think the same, the state’s mainstream media outlets have largely stayed mum on the biggest political scandal the country has witnessed in years.

Many who criticized the role of Pakistan’s military in the alleged coup – even without naming the collaborating officers specifically – have already fled the country. Some have been arrested, while others are facing legal charges.

One of the more notable and emotionally-charged cases has been that of Dr. Shahbaz Gill, a Pakistani-American academic and a close member of Imran Khan’s media team. Gill was charged with sedition against the state for making the argument on ARY News Network (a mainstream channel which was immediately shut down afterward) that military officers should not obey unlawful commands from their superiors.

Various senior military officers have already explained that Gill’s remarks are no serious offense because all military officers are already under oath to not obey unlawful commands by their superiors.

Gill was apprehended by authorities on 9 August and reportedly remained in federal government custody until his deteriorating medical condition forced his jailers to move him to a state hospital.

Khan said that he had been fooled by the very same state medical facility back in 2019 when courts were persuaded to allow former PM Nawaz Sharif to travel to the UK for urgent medical treatment, from which he never returned. Khan insisted on checking on Gill’s status himself, but was denied entry to the hospital.

According to the leadership of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, Gill was apprehended without an arrest warrant, tortured, and sexually assaulted.

Under Pakistan’s Code of Criminal Procedure (CrCP), the maximum period of detention is 14 days – which for Gill would be today, 23 August – except for “terrorism specific cases,” in which custody can be extended for up to 90 days.

“The disparity in the period of detention under the CrPC and the ATA [Anti-Terrorism Act] is one of the many contributory factors of the high number of superfluous cases in the anti-terrorism courts of Pakistan, since the ATA gives more time to the police to complete investigation while detaining the accused,” writes the Research Society of International Law in its report on Pakistan.

Is Imran Khan next?

Which brings us to news of the arrest warrant on “terrorism” charges issued against Imran Khan himself.

The highly controversial charge against Khan, under section 7 of Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Act, followed Saturday’s mass rally in support of Gill. During his speech, Khan vowed to bring lawsuits against police and judicial authorities for their roles in Gill’s alleged torture: “We will not spare you … We will sue you,” he threatened.

The accusation appear frivolous to the extreme, especially when the prosecuting government’s cabinet is overwhelmingly composed of well-known indicted criminals and repeat offenders on charges that range from corruption to murder.

But government officials defended the “terrorism” charges against Khan, saying he “spread terror amongst the police and the judiciary” and hindered their work.

Pakistan’s ATA has come under fire by domestic lawyers as well as overseas organizations. It’s definitions are too broad, its powers too aggressive, its authorities too dangerous.

Pakistan’s abuse of terror laws

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) says one of the “fundamental flaws” of the ATA “is the vague and overly broad definition of ‘terrorism’ under its provisions. This allows offenses bearing no nexus to militancy and proscribed terrorist networks to be tried.”

Up to 80 percent of those convicted of terrorism-related offenses under this act in Pakistan were accused of things that had nothing to do with “terrorism.”

Furthermore, the OHCHR cites observations from Pakistani lawyers that “political and economic influence serves as a primary determinant for whether an offense is tried under the ATA or under the ordinary criminal justice system.”

The report quotes lawyer Imran Asmat Chaudhry, a senior Advocate of the High Courts, saying:

“I have personally taken around 11 cases, which were sent to ATCs for trial. [The] motive behind all cases was personal enmity, political rivalry, or any other malignant intentions of the police themselves – even though the crime had no nexus to the ATA.”

The UN human rights group concludes: “The [ATA’s] broad definition under the law has often allowed it to be used as a tool of political victimization by ruling parties against opponents.”

Silencing media

Following the news of Khan’s arrest warrant, several Pakistani television channels were shut down and prominent journalist Jameel Farooqi was arrested and moved to an undisclosed location. According to analysts, such level of Praetorian politics and McCarthyism is unprecedented in Pakistan.

Pakistani social media activists have reported deployment of troops on high alert in major cities of Pakistan. The state has imposed a ban on Khan’s appearance on mainstream television networks, and Islamabad Police has announced that it will be no longer provide security services for Khan in the capital.

Sami Ibrahim, another prominent journalist from BOL TV that was struck off the air, says the next 48 hours will be crucial because actions for or against Khan’s arrest may take place. He believes some key decisions are likely to be made shortly, possibly including further restrictions, crackdowns, and persecution of social media platforms inside Pakistan.

In a potentially dangerous stand-off between state authorities and regular Pakistani citizens, most are wondering if the government has enough power to arrest the most popular leader in Pakistan’s recent history.

Khan’s PTI political party currently runs multiple governments in different Pakistani provinces. In stark contrast, the ruling party in the federal government – widely seen as a foreign installed government – is limited to the capital and is suffering from a major crisis in legitimacy, despite aggressive efforts to control the narrative.

Cracks form at the top

The current Pakistani government is in an impossible situation. It cannot call for early elections to help establish a public mandate of support, because all indications suggest an overwhelming win for Khan. And yet the very act of governing is a challenge without this mandate, especially given the ongoing public derision expressed in massive street protests and across social media.

In addition, the government of PM Shahbaz Sharif has its own internal divisions; these cracks are slowly becoming visible – and widening.

On 21 August, the PTI beat their opposing 13-party alliance with a decisive margin in Karachi’s by-election. Imran Khan has essentially already gone to the polls and won, because these massive election margins are taking place on the opposition’s own home ground.

Many of the ruling alliance members are fleeing provinces, where the PTI has formed provincial governments, in order to avoid potential legal charges. Some federal ministers have already escaped overseas.

According to prominent Pakistani analyst Nasir Ahmad: “General Bajwa and his senior generals have no idea how deeply the people of Pakistan, and indeed their own command, loathe them. The more insecure the generals feel, the more they dig their heels, and the closer they dig in their heels, and the closer they take their country, which they are oath-bound to defend, to its ultimate fall.”

Others, however, worry that if the state succeeds in arresting – or even assassinating Imran Khan – then nobody of similar stature and popularity will remain to lead Pakistan to safe shores. Mass movements require competent and legitimate leadership that can appropriately channel nations toward a politically constructive end, or else these numbers may just collapse upon themselves.

Since the alleged US-sponsored ousting of Imran Khan on 9 April, there hasn’t been a dull moment in Pakistani politics. It is as though the country grew a new head overnight:

Nobody could have imagined that the nation’s usually impartial military elite could be turned against the Pakistani masses and become the focus of widespread disdain. Nobody thought the military’s top brass would cozy up to New Delhi, all while when India amasses invasion-level troop build-ups in occupied Kashmir.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah stated on 22 August that Afghanistan is an ‘enemy country,’ signaling renewed Pakistani sycophancy in Washington’s latest war against the Taliban. Such decisions go diametrically against the will, interests, and decisions of the people of Pakistan.

A showdown between the majority – versus an increasingly unpopular and emboldened Pakistani elite – is inevitable in the near future.

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

Debunking The Conspiracy Theory That The US Assassinated The Al Qaeda Chief From A Kyrgyz Base

Aug 6, 2022

Source

By Andrew Korybko

This interpretation of events speculating that COAS Bajwa approved of an American drone flying through Pakistani airspace to assassinate the Al Qaeda chief in neighboring Afghanistan as part of his efforts to secure the Biden Administration’s support for an IMF loan is arguably much more believable that the one speculating that Russia approved the deployment of at least one US attack drone on the territory of its Kyrgyz mutual defense ally despite its rival presently waging an unprecedented proxy war against it in Ukraine.

Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri was assassinated last weekend by America in a drone strike that reportedly targeted his safehouse in the Afghan capital of Kabul, prompting speculation about how exactly it carried out this attack when it doesn’t have any regional bases on record. Dawn, the largest and oldest English-language newspaper in Pakistan, published a piece that referred to uncited American reports to claim that “Drone that hit Ayman al Zawahiri flew from Kyrgyzstan”. This aligns with what a Pakistani government source familiar with the development told the Express Tribune, another one of their country’s reputable outlets, with respect to Islamabad supposedly having “no role of any sort”.

That interpretation of events lacks credibility, though. Kyrgyzstan is a Russian mutual defense ally through the CSTO and hasn’t hosted US forces since 2014. Furthermore, the official Kremlin website reported on 20 December 2011 during the bloc’s Collective Security Council meeting between its heads of state that “The leaders agreed by consensus that the deployment of military infrastructure on the territory of CSTO member states by non-members of the CSTO is possible only with the obligatory coordination of this issue with all CSTO members.” Moscow, meanwhile, has opposed the Pentagon’s reported plans to deploy forces in its regional allies’ territory since its evacuation from Afghanistan.

It’s therefore literally a conspiracy theory to claim that the American drone attack that assassinated Zawahiri in Afghanistan came from CSTO member Kyrgyzstan’s territory since this would have had to be approved by Russia in advance yet all reports on the topic prove that Moscow has consistently been against its proxy war rival deploying any military forces on the territory of its allies. With this in mind, it’s much more likely that the drone flew through Pakistani airspace from an American base in the Gulf exactly as many had speculated for obvious reasons despite Islamabad indirectly denying this through the government source that reportedly spoke to the Express Tribune as was earlier cited.

Should that have been the case, then it would suggest that the Pakistani military once again did a favor for its American allies by approving overflight through their country’s airspace, perhaps in exchange for some shadowy quid pro quo that hasn’t yet been revealed but might be connected to Chief Of Army Staff (COAS) Bajwa’s reported efforts to gin up economic support after everything crashed following the extremely unpopular post-modern coup against former Prime Minister Khan. The man who many believe to be the country’s de facto leader nowadays reportedly just sought help from the US for an IMF loan and also reportedly just approached Pakistan’s Emirati and Saudi allies for assistance too.

This interpretation of events speculating that COAS Bajwa approved of an American drone flying through Pakistani airspace to assassinate the Al Qaeda chief in neighboring Afghanistan as part of his efforts to secure the Biden Administration’s support for an IMF loan is arguably much more believable that the one speculating that Russia approved the deployment of at least one US attack drone on the territory of its Kyrgyz mutual defense ally despite its rival presently waging an unprecedented proxy war against it in Ukraine. It’s of course everyone’s right to believe whatever they want, but the first-mentioned interpretation is credible while the second is indisputably a conspiracy theory.

From Balkh to Konya: Discovering Rumi’s spiritual geopolitics

July 30 2022

By Pepe Escobar

Source

While Jalal al-Din Rumi is synonymous with Islamic mysticism, a deeper dig brings to light the West Asian political changes and upheaval that shaped his world and other-worldly view.

KONYA – Mystic poet, Sufi, theosophist, and thinker, Jalal al-Din Rumi remains one of the most beloved historical personalities in history, east and west. A wanderer in search of the light, he famously characterized himself thus: “I am nothing more than a humble lover of God.”

The era of Rumi’s father – Sultan Bahaeddin Veled (1152-1231) and son (1207-1273) – was an extraordinary socio-political rollercoaster. It’s absolutely impossible for us today to understand the ideas, allusions and parables that trespass Rumi’s magnum opus, the six-volume Masnevi , in 25,620 couplets, without delving into some serious time travel.

In the Masnevi , written in Persian – the prime literary language in West and Central Asia in those times – Rumi used poetry essentially as a tool for teaching divine secrets, explaining them via parables. The Rumi Project is to show Man the path to Divine Love, leading him from a low stage to the highest. Squeezed and subdued by the techno-feudalism juggernaut, we may now need to heed these lessons more than ever in history.

The Masnevi became hugely popular across Eurasia immediately after Rumi’s death in 1273 – from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan to Central Asia, Iran and Turkey. Then, slowly but surely, the man and the opus ended up reaching even the collective west (Goethe was mesmerized) and inspiring a wealth of learned commentaries, in Persian, Ottoman Turkish, Urdu and English.

“The master from Anatolia”

Let’s start our time travel in the 11th century, when some Turkish tribes, after crossing Transoxiana, began to settle in northern Persia. These new Turkish tribes – from the Ghaznavids to the Seljuks (actually the branch of a Turkoman tribe) – constituted fabulous dynasties that played a key role in the inter-mixing of Turkic and Persian culture (what the Chinese today, applying it to the New Silk Roads, call “people to people contacts”).

Islam spread very fast in Persia under the rule of the religiously tolerant Samanids. That was the foundation stone for Mahmud of Ghazna (998-1030) to form a great Turkish empire, from northeastern Persia to very remote parts of India. Mahmud made a great impression on Rumi.

While the Ghaznavids remained powerful in eastern Persia, the Seljuks established a powerful empire not only in parts of Iran but also in the remote lands of Anatolia (called Arz-I Rum). That’s the reason why Rumi is called Mavlana-yi Rum (“the master from Anatolia”).

Rumi as a kid lived in legendary Balkh (part of Khorasan in northern Afghanistan), capital of the Khwarazm empire. When he and his father were still there, the king was Ala al-Din, who came from a dynasty established by a Turkish slave.

After a series of incredibly messy kingdom clashes, Ala al-Din saw himself pitted in battle against the king of Samarkand, Osman Khan. That ended up in a massacre in 1212, in which Ala al-Din’s soldiers killed 10,000 people in Samarkand. The young Rumi was shocked.

Ala al-Din wanted to be no less than the absolute ruler of the Muslim world. He refused to obey the Caliph in Baghdad. He even started entertaining designs on China – where Genghis Khan had already conquered Pekin.

Ala al-Din sent an envoy to China who was very well treated by Genghis, who had an eye on – what else – good business between the two empires (the Silk Road bug, again). Genghis sent his ambassadors back, full of gifts. Ala al-Din received them in Transoxiana in 1218.

But then the governor of one of his provinces, a close relative, robbed and killed some of the Mongols. Genghis demanded punishment. The Sultan refused. Well, you don’t want to pick up a fight with Genghis Khan. He duly started a series of massacres in Persia, and inevitably the Khwarazm empire – along with its great cities, Samarkand, Bukhara, Balkh, Merv – collapsed. By then, Rumi and his father had already left.

Like Baghdad, each of these fabulous cities was a center of learning. Rumi’s Balkh had a mixed culture of Arabs, Sassanians, Turks, Buddhists and Christians. After Alexander The Great, Balkh became the hub of Greco-Bactria. Just before the coming of Islam, it was a Buddhist hub and a center of Zoroastrian teaching. All along, one of the great centers of the Ancient Silk Roads.

On the road with 300 camels

The hero of Rumi’s Masnevi, Ibrahim Adham, like the Buddha, had relinquished his throne for the love of God, setting the example for the Sufism that later came to flourish across these latitudes, known as the Khorasani school.

As Prof Dr Erkan Turkmen, who was born in Peshawar and today is a top scholar at Karatay University in Konya, and author, among others, of a lovely volume, ‘Roses from Rumi’s Rose Garden’ says, there are two top reliable sources for the extraordinary pilgrimage of Rumi’s father Bahaeddin and his family from Balkh to Konya, with books, food and house ware loaded on the back of 300 camels, accompanied by 40 religious people. The sources, inevitably, are father and son (Rumi’s account is written in verse).

The first major stop was Baghdad. At the entrance gates, the guards asked who they were. Rumi’s father said, “We are coming from God and shall go back to Him. We have come from the non-existent world and shall go there again.”

Caliph al-Nasir summoned his top scholar Suhreverdi, who immediately gave the green light to the newcomers. But Rumi’s father did not want to stay under the protection of the Caliph, who was noted for his cruelness. So after a few years he left for Mecca on a Hajj and then to Damascus – which was an extremely well organized city at the time of the Abbasids and the Seljuks, crammed with 660 mosques, more than 40 madrassas, 100 baths and plenty of famous scholars.

The final steps on the family journey were Erjinzan in Anatolia – already a center of trade and culture – and then Larende (now Karaman), 100km south of Konya. Today, Karaman is only a small Turkish province, but in those times extended as far as Antalya to the south. It housed a lot of Christian Turks, who wrote Turkish using the Greek alphabet.

That’s where Rumi got married. Afterwards, his father was invited by Sultan Ala al-Din Kayqubad I (1220-1237) to Konya, finally establishing himself and the family until his death in 1231.

The Seljuks in Anatolia erupted into history in the year 1075, when Alp Arslan defeated the Byzantines in the legendary battle of Manzikert. A century later, in 1107, Qilich Arslan defeated the Crusaders, and the Seljuk empire began to spread very fast. It took a few decades before Christians started to accept the inevitable: the presence of Turks in Anatolia. Later, they even started to intermix.

The golden era of the Seljuks was under Sultan Ala al-Din Kayqubad I (the one who invited Rumi’s family to Konya), who built citadels around Konya and Kayseri to protect them from the coming Mongol invasion, and spent his winters at the beautiful Mediterranean coast in Antalya.

In Konya, Rumi did not get into politics, and does not seem to have had close relations with the royal family. He was widely known either as Mevlana (our master) or Rumi (the Anatolian). In Turkey today he is simply known as Mevlana, and in the west as Rumi. In his lyrical poetry, he uses the pseudonym Khamush (Silent). Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP – a highly materialistic enterprise wallowing in dodgy businesses – is not exactly fond of Rumi’s Sufism.

Under the Green Dome

As we’ve seen, Rumi spent most of his childhood on the road – so he never attended regular school. His early education was provided by his father and other scholars who followed the family to Karaman. Rumi also met many other famous scholars along the way, especially in Baghdad and Damascus, where he studied Islamic history, the Quran, and Arabic.

When Rumi was about to finish the 6th volume of the Masnevi, he fell ill, under constant fever. He passed away on 17 December, 1273. A fund of 130,000 dirhams was organized to build his tomb, which includes the world-famous Green Dome (Qubbat ul-Khazra), originally finished in 1274 and currently under renovation.

The tomb today is a museum (Konya holds astonishing relics especially in the Ethnography and Archeology museums). But for most pilgrims from all lands of Islam and beyond who come to pay their spiritual tributes, it is actually regarded as a lover’s shrine (Kaaba-yi Ushaq).

These lines, inscribed in his splendid wooden sarcophagus, may be a summary of all that Rumi attempted to teach during his lifetime:

“If wheat is grown on the clay of my grave, and if you bake bread of it, your intoxication will increase, the dough and the baker will go mad and the oven will also begin to recite verses out of madness. When you pay a visit to my tomb, it will seem to be dancing for God has created me out of the wine of love and I am still the same love even if death may crush me.”

A Sufi is by definition a lover of God. Islamic mysticism considers three stages of knowledge: the knowledge of certainty, the eye of certainty, and the truth of certainty.

In the first stage, one tries to find God by intellectual proof (failure is inevitable). In the second stage, one may be tuned in to divine secrets. In the third stage, one is able to see Reality and understand It spiritually. That’s a path not dissimilar to reaching enlightenment in Buddhism.

In addition to these three stages, there are paths to follow toward God. Choosing a path – Tarikat – is a very complicated business. It can be any Sufi order – such as Mavleviya, Kadriya, Nakshbandiya – under the guidance of a sheikh of that particular Tarikat.

In these absurdist times of grain diplomacy barely able to remedy the toxic effects of imperial sanctions, part of a proxy war of civilizations, a Rumi verse – “The celestial mill gives nothing if you have no wheat” – may open unexpected vistas.

Rumi is essentially saying that if one goes to a flour mill without wheat, what shall we gain? Nothing but the whiteness of one’s beard and hair (because of the flour). In the same vein: “If we have no good deeds to take with us to the other world, we will gain nothing but pain in the heart, while if we have developed our spiritual being, we will gain honor and Divine Love.”

Now try to explain that to a crusading collective west.

The Power Of The Pakistani People Will Defeat Their Unpopular Imported Government

Jul 27 2022

By Andrew Korybko

Source

The power of the people is unbeatable whenever the people are truly united behind a cause greater than themselves such as their country’s sovereignty and anything related to its existential defense. Pakistanis both present and past have suffered so much to preserve their hard-earned independence and won’t let it be stolen from them by elite echelons who betrayed the social contract between citizens and the state under the influence of a foreign party.

The imported government that was imposed on the global pivot state of Pakistan as a result of a US-orchestrated but domestically driven post-modern coup carried out through the superficially “democratic” means of “lawfare” has proven itself to be the most unpopular regime in that country’s history. Nowhere is this more evident than by the formerly ruling PTI’s landslide victory in the Punjab by-elections, yet instead of letting the constitutional process play out by peacefully ceding power to that party, PMLN and its allies made a desperate last-ditch attempt to stage a post-modern coup in Pakistan’s most populous region. This decisively failed after the Supreme Court ruled against the plotters and ordered that PTI ally Pervez Elahi be sworn in as its next Chief Minister.

None of this would have been possible had it not been for the Pakistani people pushing back against their unpopular imported government ever since it was imposed upon them against their will nearly one-third of a year ago in early April. Since then, they’ve braved vicious state-directed violence – most notably during their Long March on Islamabad in late May – and some of their most prominent journalists like Imran Riaz Khan were thuggishly harassed by the authorities. That, however, didn’t weaken their will but only emboldened them. The Pakistani people united in the face of this post-modern martial law and didn’t let it break them. It only made them stronger by becoming a formative experience for collectively building the New Pakistan that seems inevitable at this point.

Those stakeholders who’ve hitherto stubbornly resisted the people’s are now finally forced to confront the reality of what they’ve done. They arrogantly thought that they could impose a foreign-backed government onto Pakistanis and then gaslight the population into thinking that they’re crazy if they suspect that any foul play was involved. This was a severe violation of the trust that had hitherto been established between citizens and the state after people placed their faith in certain stakeholders to always tell them the truth and defend their objective national interests no matter what. Instead, this trust was taken advantage of and ruthlessly disrespected, though those dark days might soon be ending if recent developments are any indication.

Proponents of multipolar school of thought that became popular among some elite echelons in recent years were always opposed to their pro-American peers’ post-modern coup but lost the influence to shape events due to shadowy dynamics from the preceding months (particularly speculation about the scandal surrounding DG ISI’s appointment late last year). Nevertheless, their star might once again be rising as the pro-American school of thought now realizes that they pushed the country to the brink of collapse and even potentially domestic conflict all for the sake of satisfying their foreign partners. They might not yet have learned their lesson in full, but the fact that they didn’t stop the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Punjab suggests that their influence might finally be on the decline.  

The power of the people is unbeatable whenever the people are truly united behind a cause greater than themselves such as their country’s sovereignty and anything related to its existential defense. Pakistanis both present and past have suffered so much to preserve their hard-earned independence and won’t let it be stolen from them by elite echelons who betrayed the social contract between citizens and the state under the influence of a foreign party. What’s taking place in Pakistan right now is nothing short of revolutionary and is truly unprecedented since the time of its formation. The nation is being remodeled according to modern circumstances connected to the global systemic transition to multipolarity, which is giving its people the promising future that they deserve.

Imran Khan rewrites Pakistan’s political history

Against the odds and powerful rivals pitted against him, former PM Khan’s win in Punjab elections is a victory for democracy and Pakistan’s sovereignty

July 18 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

Pakistan’s ousted president Imran Khan trounces his opponents by a wide margin in their own stronghold of Punjab.

By MK Bhadrakumar

It is an unsavoury proposition always, be it in India or Pakistan, when political power is usurped by fly-by-night operators who engineer defections from a ruling party, and an established government gets overthrown despite its mandate to govern.

In India — so far, at least — such shenanigans leading to regime change at the federal or state level have not been manipulated by foreign powers — except, perhaps, in the ouster of the first  communist government in the southern state of Kerala, way back in 1959.

In South Asian politics, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Maldives have been chronic cases where foreign interference in their domestic politics has become endemic. But they are either small countries or weak states, vulnerable to external pressure.

A coup by other means

It was the first time that the curse of foreign interference appeared in a big South Asian country such as Pakistan when the US openly sought the removal of then-Prime Minister Imran Khan, and a regime change indeed ensued within a short period of time.

To what extent the political forces that constituted the successor regime in Islamabad drew encouragement from Washington to usurp power, we do not know, and may never. But given the political elite’s past record of rentier mentality, such a thing cannot be ruled out.

Although those elites in India and Pakistan have strong similarities, the Pakistani (civilian) elite has long held a tradition of looking over their shoulder for US approval.

Imran Khan himself insists that this was precisely what happened, and therefore, he has called his protest movement a “jihad.” Indeed, the abrupt warming up of the US-Pakistan relationship, which was in a state of disrepair under Khan, no sooner than he was ousted, also signified the Biden administration’s delight and sense of relief over the regime change in Pakistan.

As for Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who had no time for Pakistan previously, the sudden upbeat tone of his personal diplomacy toward the new ruling elite in Islamabad, which is also drawn from powerful political dynasties that are intimately known to the US establishment, distinctly conveyed the impression that on his cold war chessboard, he could now count on a new pawn to be pitted against China (and Russia.)

Khan not ‘out’

However, such euphoria was short-lived. Contrary to the estimations, including in India, that Imran Khan’s political career was over, events have shown that he is still very much Pakistan’s current history, and, if  anything, it is the usurpers in Islamabad who are relics from the past.

To be sure, Khan’s “jihad” has taken the form of a tsunami that today threatens to drown the usurpers. The manner in which he has stormed the heartland of Punjab in Sunday’s by-elections must be sending alarm bells ringing in the corridors of power, not only in Lahore but also in Islamabad.

A landslide victory

The mammoth crowds that follow Imran Khan everywhere are indeed turning into votes. Without doubt, it is after a very long time that a truly charismatic politician has appeared on the Pakistani political landscape.

Khan has stunned his detractors and political opponents by taking control of the crucial Punjab provincial assembly. His party won 15 of 20 seats up for grab in by-elections, trouncing arch-rival Pakistan Muslim League-N (which incidentally heads the federal government in Islamabad also since April after Imran Khan’s ouster) on its home ground.

The result is not only a major blow for current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif but is also widely regarded as a foretaste of what could happen in a general election. Imran Khan has been demanding an early general election which is otherwise due in October 2023.

The powers that be

The conventional wisdom that the Pakistani military establishment would feel challenged by such a spectre has been proven wrong this time around (which also augurs well for the country’s political future.) Fundamentally, the axiom that a Pakistani civilian politician who developed differences with the military leadership would be a fallen angel ever condemned to oblivion has also withered away.

In fact, the swiftness of Imran Khan’s return to centre stage is awesome, as if he never quit the centre stage and the usurpers were mere interlopers.

Imran Khan has rewritten Pakistan’s political history by knocking at the doors of political power so soon after his ouster by an unholy alliance of time servers with foreign patronage.

If the election results from Punjab have conveyed one single thing, it is that the people of that country have understood what democratic empowerment is and are determined to voice their opinion.

And that opinion is, unmistakably, that the regime change in Lahore following the ouster of Imran Khan’s party from power was a repugnant episode, and must be undone. The strong likelihood is that it also becomes a signpost for those in power in Islamabad.

Given Pakistan’s grave economic challenges, political stability is an imperative need, and the last thing the country deserves is to be burdened with a national government which lacks legitimacy. When a country is faced with such a predicament, the only way out is to hold fresh elections that can hopefully bring to power a new, stable government with the mandate to rule.

Of course, mandate only gives legitimacy to rule and does not necessarily guarantee good governance — Bangladesh is, perhaps, a solitary exception in the South Asian region — but that is something that we can learn to live with as a fact of life in our part of the world.

Understanding Khan’s ‘jihad’

Imran Khan’s “jihad” is not a call for anarchy. Nor is he stirring up a “colour revolution”. He is, on the contrary, a factor of stability for Pakistan — strictly abiding by the rule of law and constitutional order. He is only demanding a new government with a mandate to rule, a cause that he has consistently espoused since signs of a US-sponsored political coup against him began to crystallize.

The real danger is that if there is a disconnect between the rulers and the ruled, it not only weakens the incumbent government and affects decision-making, especially when difficult decisions need to be taken, but also that political drift could spawn anarchical conditions. And that is an eventuality Pakistan can ill afford in the prevailing circumstances.

It is possible that Khan may be returned to power in fresh elections. It is equally possible that his party may once again fall short of a majority and has to build a coalition, or, alternatively, reconcile with the role of an opposition. But the present logjam needs to be broken, nonetheless. And that is only possible through new elections.

Political instability in Pakistan will be detrimental to the country’s long term interests at the present juncture in global affairs, where it has a serious role to play as a major regional power.

Pakistan has a lot going for it in the emergent world order characterized by multipolarity. It is up to the Pakistani political elite not to goof up, in their mad scramble for power. That makes fresh elections in the shortest possible time a dire necessity.

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

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.

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