Election Engineering or Unnecessary Paranoia? 

There’s a lot of talk about election engineering and pre-poll rigging going on in Pakistan. It recently became a hot topic again since CEO of Pakistani English daily Dawn gave an interview to BBC, in which he claimed that Pakistani military and security agencies are behind election engineering in Pakistan. When asked to give evidence, Mr Hameed Haroon pointed towards chatter on social media where he claims to see the hidden hand of Pakistani security establishment, which left Stephen Sackur dumbfounded. 

So I decided to explore this apparent issue from my own perspective. 

We have two possibilities: 

1. Either Pakistani security establishment is rigging elections, or

2. It’s not. 

Possibility # 1: 

Q: What’s the basis of the claim that Pakistani security establishment is rigging the election? 


1. Court cases that are being faced by Imran Khan’s rivals, Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari and their respective parties. The only problem is that they are facing cases because they broke the law. These cases were not made up out of thin air. They are backed by solid evidence of wrongdoing. Unlike Imran Khan, Mr Sharif and Mr Zardari have both enjoyed posts of the Prime Minister and the President, respectively. So they are also answerable for what they did or did not do during their tenure, including the question how exactly they made all the money that they possess. Moreover, even the most outrageus of conspiracy theorist out there won’t claim that the Pakistani security establishment was behind the release of Panama Papers, which really made the case a central issue in Pakistani political scene. 

But it will also be incorrect to state that Pakistani security establishment had absolutely nothing to do with these cases. Fact of the matter is, it did. And the proof of that is that the judges involved in hearing these cases are still breathing. In the past, whenever Pakistan’s political elite, and Nawaz Sharif in particular, faced court cases, the judges would either get physically attacked or receive death threats until they dropped the case or gave undue favors. But this time around Pakistani military chiefs, first Raheel Sharif and then Qamar Bajwa, made it clear in public statements that the military stands with the law and the Constitution of Pakistan, while they privately assured the judges and lawyers that their security will be ensured so they could perform their job without any kind of threat of physical harm. This was the only role that the military actually played. And even this role wouldn’t be necessary for the military to play if Pakistan’s political elite had spared the police force from their corrupt practices – but unfortunately that’s not the case, and political appointments, bribes, etc keeps the police force consistently incompetent. 

2. Another basis for the election engineering claim is that all kinds of extremists are being cleared by the Election Commission of Pakistan to contest election. Some of these people include Aurangzeb Faruqui of ASWJ, Maulana Fazlu Rehman Khalil of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and several close aides of Hafiz Saeed. Many ask, why is this being allowed, and they do have a point. Mainstreaming extremists will result in the mainstreaming of extremism, there’s no doubt about that. But a flip side of this dilemma is that mainstreaming of extremists may also make some of them more moderate over time. There are several examples around us to prove that at least in some cases when an extremist was given a second chance, they did change for the better. One of the most well-known examples of this is British-Pakistani Maajid Nawaz, who used to be an extremist until he was jailed for a short period of time in Egypt but then was given a second chance. Today he’s one of the leading counter-extremism experts in Britain. So we do know that people have the potential to change for the better. 

It is also true that Pakistani military has been pushing for mainstreaming of some of these extremists in an attempt to push them towards moderation. In Afghanistan, US and Afghan government are pursuing pretty much the same strategy where first Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was brought into the mainstream and now Trump administration has ordered direct talks with the Taliban. The idea, in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, is to bring those who surrender to the state into the mainstream while simultaneously waging war against those who continue to engage in terrorist activities. There are those who agree with this strategy and there are those who do not – but this may very well be the least worse of all the worst options. 

3. Some people point towards the media where there is a view that the media is being silenced by Pakistani security establishment. Let’s be clear, Pakistani media has faced clampdowns under every single government in the past, whether civilian or military. But if we compare what media faced during the era of Zia-ul-Haq with the situation of media today, the claim that media is facing restrictions sounds almost laughable. 

Pakistani media has never been so free as it is today. It can choose to print almost anything and cover any story. It can leak details from national security meetings and get away with it by simply saying that the journalist has the right to protect his sources. And while that may very well be true, what journalists don’t have the right to do is write falsehoods or support rogue elements like a convicted criminal. And yet Pakistani media has been doing all of that and more, without any consequences. No one revoked the license of any tv channel or newspaper. But that doesn’t mean that Pakistani media has faced no trouble since 2013. It sure has. And a lot of those times that trouble came at the hands of political parties that champion democratic rights. For instance, consider the incident of 22nd August 2016 when members of MQM (Mutahhida Qaumi Movement) attacked the office of ARY News channel and caused property damage and beat up the mediapersons. If that’s not enough, consider the incident of 2017 when the mediapersons of Samaa TV were attacked by a relative of Punjab’s influential minister Mr Rana Sanaullah, who belongs to the PML-N, whose leader is convicted criminal and self-proclaimed champion of democracy Mr Nawaz Sharif. 

Any attack on media is condemnable and any government restrictions are certainly wrong. But at the same time the media has the responsibility to respect the law, which also applies on journalists, and not become an instrument of chaos. 

4. There is also a view among Pakistani politicians that they are not being allowed to campaign freely. Recent multiple political leaders were apparently stopped from carrying out rallies and the blame once again is put on Pakistani security establishment. But this may have more to do with the increased terrorist threat in Pakistan during election season than the military trying to hatch some nefarious scheme to rig the election. A recent bombing in Balochistan which has killed over 200 according to some reports and the continued threats from Afghanistan-based terrorist groups to attack election-related targets in Pakistan contribute to some of the restrictions that political leaders may have to face, which is obviously very unfortunate but also necessary to keep everyone safe. 

Q: Why would Pakistani security establishment rig the election anyway? 

A: It doesn’t need to. The participants already rigged the election themselves. Let me explain how. Nawaz and his daughter are out of the game for a long time to come. And if anyone needs another reminder, they are screwed because they screwed themselves. Asif Ali Zardari (leader of PPP) and his sister are on Exit Control List (ECL), which means they can’t leave Pakistan, and are likely to face cases relating to charges of money laundering and even espionage (see: case of Iranian spy Uzair Baloch). Bilawal Bhutto, son of Asif Zardari, is still too young and inexperienced and is sort of a laughing stock in Pakistani political scene and stands little chance at least in this election. This leaves a huge leadership vacuum in the two traditional mainstream parties in Pakistan and only leaves intact the third biggest political force – Imran Khan’s PTI. Combine all of the above with the fact that the majority public opinion in Pakistan at the moment has almost completely turned against the two traditional parties. Even people who don’t necessarily like Imran Khan or agree with his party’s policies agree on one thing: there is no going back to the two traditional parties, Nawaz’s PML-N and Asif Zardari’s PPP, since they have already been tried and tested. 

In the present scenario, the military does not need to rig the elections. They’re already rigged thanks to criminal practices and immature politics of the leadership of both traditional parties. Now all the military needs to do is to make sure that the voting process is free and fair and we will most likely see Imran Khan’s PTI win the next election – an outcome which many of us may not like but may very well need to cope with. Unfortunately, the job of guaranteeing a safe and fair voting process in Pakistan can only be performed by the military, which if anything points towards the failure of the two traditional parties to make the police force and other relevant civilian institutions capable enough to guarantee a safe and fair electoral process. 

Source: Samaa TV

Possibility # 2: 

Q: If the elections are not rigged, why the allegations of pre-poll rigging? 

A: The allegations are coincidentally coming from the same two traditional parties whose most senior leaders are facing charges of massive corruption, among other things. Or maybe it’s not really a coincidence. The strategy that is being employed by both traditional parties is to make the election controversial before the voting process. The reason is obvious: both parties know they’re not going to win a clear majority this time and may even face more setbacks as court cases of leaders of both parties continue. So their strategy makes sense but will also put the entire democratic process in jeopardy. 

Source: Al-Jazeera
Source: Al-Jazeera

We can continue to debate about allegations of pre-poll rigging but one thing that we can all agree on is there has probably never been an election in Pakistan where there has not been some kind of rigging during voting process (pre-poll rigging and rigging during voting process are two entirely different things). So it would be foolish to expect that there will be no rigging during voting process in this election. In Pakistani election, the idea traditionally is to cheat whenever, wherever you can, and literally everyone does it. None of us have any concrete proof that Pakistani security establishment is engaged in pre-poll rigging, which is a serious allegation especially in a baby democracy like Pakistan. Not even the CEO of Pakistan’s leading English newspaper has evidence to prove that claim. 

Will this be the most free and fair election in Pakistan’s history? Maybe or maybe not, although the voting and counting process is still to happen and before that it would be premature to say anything with complete confidence. But a counter question would be: was the Saudi and US brokered National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) of Musharraf era not pre-poll rigging? How exactly did Saudis and Americans decide who will rule Pakistan before election had taken place? While there’s no evidence for the allegations of pre-poll rigging today, there is enough evidence to prove that NRO was essentially pre-poll rigging. And yet the two biggest champions of democracy in Pakistan – the two traditional parties PML-N and PPP – were the biggest beneficiaries of the NRO. 



Pakistan and Islamist Terrorism: Briefing Report For January 2018

The new year in Pakistan started with multiple blasts in Balochistan. Two different, consecutive attacks in Balochistan, one claimed by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al-Alami and the second by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, injured nearly a dozen people. The first month of 2018 saw the continuation of the trend of small-scale terrorist attacks – mixed with a couple of significant attacks – in Pakistan, with Balochistan and Pak-Afghan border areas being the epicenter and Pakistani police and other security personnel the target of most of these attacks. This trend has been on the rise since at least last few of months. In this report, we will take a brief look at the terrorist attacks claimed by Islamist terrorist groups in the month of January 2018. This report does not include attacks claimed by ethno-nationalist terrorist groups like BLF, BRA, etc.

Significant terrorist attacks in January 2018:

  • 1st January 2018: Twin IED blasts in Chaman, Balochistan injured at least 8 people including 3 security officials. The attack was claimed by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al-Alami.
  • 2nd January: A suicide attack targeting FC security personnel in Quetta, Balochistan injured 6 security personnel. The attack was claimed by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and the suicide bomber was identified in TTP’s statement as Ismail Afghani.
TTP suicide bomber responsible for 2nd January Quetta attack.
  • 5th January: IED explosion in Mohmand Agency targeting convoy of FC security personnel injured one soldier. The attack was claimed by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar.
  • 6th January: Gun attack in Quetta targeting policemen resulted in the death of one cop and injury of another. The attack was claimed by TTP.
  • 9th January: Suicide bomber riding a motorcycle targeted a police truck in Quetta, Balochistan which resulted in the deaths of at least 7 people, including 5 security personnel, and injured another 14. The attack was claimed by TTP and the suicide bomber was identified by TTP as Mujahid Ilyas.
TTP suicide bomber responsible for 9th January attack in Quetta.
The police truck that was targeted.
  • 12th January: Gun attack in North Nazimabad of Karachi city targeting an off-duty police constable who was riding his motorcycle resulted in the death of the cop. The attack was claimed by TTP and TTP also released a video showing the complete assassination of the cop. This attack falls in the category of significant attacks because it occurred in metropolitan Karachi and a surreal video was released by TTP.
Screenshot from the video released by TTP. In this shot, the ID card of the police official can also be seen.
  • 18th January: Gun attack in Quetta, Balochistan targeting health workers working on anti-polio vaccination program resulted in the deaths of two female health workers. The attack was claimed by Islamic State.
Amaq claim for 18th January Quetta gun attack.


Minor Attacks in January 2018:

  • 3rd January: Two terrorists were killed in an explosion while planting a bomb in DI Khan. Later reports emerged that the explosion was caused when Pakistani security forces opened fire on the terrorists who were planting the bomb. One of the terrorists who died in the explosion was involved in the killing Pak Army’s fallen hero Major Ishaq. TTP later released a statement, confirming that both terrorists were its members.
  • 5th January: Gun attack targeting Shia Muslims in Quetta resulted in the death of a Shia man. The attack was claimed by Islamic State.
Amaq claim for 5th January gun attack.
  • 6th January: A failed ambush gun attack, involving two terrorists, targeting a police convoy in Quetta, Balochistan resulted in the deaths of two terrorists. The failed attack was claimed by TTP and TTP also released photos of one of the terrorists, identified by TTP as Commander Anas. This was TTP’s second attack on 6th Jan.
Commander Anas of TTP.
  • 16th January: Gun attack in Quetta, Balochistan targeting a police constable resulted in his death. The attack was claimed by TTP.
  • 17th January: Terrorists attacked Pakistani security forces engaged in a search operation in Jani Khel, Bannu. The attack resulted in the deaths of multiple terrorists while at least two security personnel were also injured. TTP claimed responsibility for the attack and released photo of one of the terrorists killed in the gunfight.
Photo of one of the terrorists – identified by TTP as Abu Nasir Wazir – killed in the 17th Jan gunfight in Bannu.
  • 18th January: Gun attack in Quetta, Balochistan targeting police personnel resulted in the deaths of two police constables. TTP claimed responsibility for the attack.
  • 21st January: Gun attack in Quetta, Balochistan targeting a former police official – identified as Fazal-ur-Rehman Kakar, a key figure in 2011’s Kharotabad incident – which resulted in his death. TTP claimed responsibility for the attack. TTP mentioned Fazal-ur-Rehman’s involvement in Kharotabad incident as the primary reason for his assassination.
TTP claim released for 21st January gun attack in Quetta.
  • 25th January: Gun attack in Sialkot, Punjab targeting police convoy injured two policemen. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al-Alami claimed responsibility.
  • 28th January: Gun attack in Quetta, Balochistan targeting an off-duty policeman resulted in his death. The attack was claimed by Islamic State.
Amaq claim for 28th January gun attack in Quetta.
  • 29th January: Gun attack in Quetta, Balochistan targeting vehicle of Custom officials which resulted in the death of at least one Custom official and injured multiple others. The attack was claimed by TTP.
TTP claim via Umar media for 29th Jan attack.


Cross-border Attacks from Afghanistan (reported and unreported):

Following is the list of all the cross-border attacks claimed by Islamist terrorist groups in January 2018. The list includes both reported and unreported attacks. Reported attacks are those that have been covered in the media or confirmed by Pakistani government or military. An unreported attack is the one that has been claimed by a group but went unreported in the media or could not be confirmed by the government or military. Since we rely on information coming from government, military and/or the media for confirmation of terrorist attacks, in the absence of such confirmation there is no other way for us to verify that some or all of these unreported attacks claimed by different groups even took place or not.

  • 4th January: Hizbul Ahrar claimed cross-border attack in Mohmand Agency targeting Pakistani check-posts. The attack could not be confirmed.
  • 6th January: Missile attack from Afghanistan targeting Pakistani security check-post in Mohmand Agency. The attack was claimed by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar. The attack was reported in media and confirmed by local administration.
  • 10th January: TTP claimed mine blast attack in North Waziristan’s border belt region targeting Pakistani soldiers. The attack went unreported and could not be confirmed.
  • 11th January: Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed two cross border attacks; a missile attack in Khyber Agency’s Landi Kotal targeting a Pakistani military camp and a guerrilla attack in Bajaur Agency’s Naogi targeting Pakistani soldiers. Both attacks went unreported and could not be confirmed.
  •  12th January: TTP claimed a cross-border sniper fire attack in Bajaur Agency targeting Pakistani troops. The attack could not be confirmed.
  • 12th January: Hizbul Ahrar claimed a cross-border gun attack in Mohmand Agency targeting Pakistani check-posts. The attack could not be confirmed.
  • 14th January: Tehreek Lashkar-e-Islam Pakistan claimed two cross-border attacks; one in Khyber Agency (Rajgal) targeting Pakistani soldiers and the other in Sipah (Daraab Sar) targeting a Pakistani tank. Both attacks could not be confirmed.
Lashkar-e-Islam’s statement of claim for 14th January’s twin cross-border attacks
  • 17th January: Hizbul Ahrar claimed rocket attack in Mohmand Agency’s Wadi Soran targeting a Pakistani check-post from Afghanistan. The attack could not be confirmed.
  • 19th January: Hizbul Ahrar claimed cross-border gun attack targeting Pakistani check-posts at Salala, Mohmand Agency from Afghanistan. HuA statement said one militant named Minhaj Umri was also killed in Pakistani retaliatory fire. The attack could not be independently confirmed.
  • 21st January: Hizbul Ahrar claimed cross-border gun attack in Mohmand Agency targeting Pakistani check-posts. Attack could not be confirmed.
  • 23rd January: Hizbul Ahrar claimed cross-border gun attack in Mohmand Agency targeting Pakistani check-posts. Attack could not be confirmed.
  • 25th January: TTP claimed two-hour long cross-border attack in Arandu, Chitral along Pak-Afghan border targeting multiple Pakistani check-posts. Arandu lies on the border with Kunar Province, Afghanistan. Attack could not be confirmed.
  • 28th January: TTP claimed cross-border attack in Bajaur Agency targeting Pakistani security check-posts and soldiers who were fencing the border. TTP statement said 15 fighters took part & even went on to say that Pakistani military launched artillery strikes in retaliation. The attack could not be independently confirmed.
  • 28th January: Tehreek Lashkar-e-Islam Pakistan claimed cross-border sniper fire attack targeting a Pakistani soldier in Rajgal Valley, Khyber Agency. The attack could not be confirmed.
Lashkar-e-Islam statement of claim for 28th Jan cross-border sniper attack.

Special Cases:

Case # 1:

On 16 January 2018 in late hours of afternoon, Pakistani media reported a suicide attack in Malir Cantt area of Karachi city targeting the convoy of a senior police official Rao Anwar of Sindh Police. In the midnight, on 17th January, TTP officially claimed responsibility for the attack and released name and photo of the alleged suicide bomber.

Suicide bomber identified by TTP as Ismail Afridi.
SSP Rao Anwar of Sindh Police.

The case took an unexpected turn when around 26th January reports surfaced in Pakistani media that the attack was ‘staged’ by police officer Rao Anwar. The ID card of the supposedly ‘real’ suicide bomber also surfaced in the Pakistani media:

Person identified as Gul Saeed by Pakistani media.

According to reports in Pakistani media since then, Gul Saeed was innocent and was kidnapped by Karachi police before the attack was supposedly staged. There are several questions that could be raised here but since this case is still under investigation by Pakistani authorities and we don’t know what to make of this, it has been categorized here as a special case.

Case # 2:

On 13th January 2018, it was announced by Karachi Police – and reported by Pakistani media – that 4 terrorists of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al-Alami and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan were killed in an encounter in Karachi’s Shah Latif town. Photos of all four dead terrorists surfaced on social media. Around 18th January, reports started emerging in Pakistani media that one of the terrorists killed in the 13th Jan encounter – named Naqeeb Mehsud – was innocent and was kidnapped by Karachi Police before being killed in a staged encounter. Karachi police released two conflicting reports; one reiterating that Naqeeb Mehsud was a TTP militant and the other rejecting the first report and declaring Naqeeb Mehsud innocent.

First report released by Karachi Police, detailing Naqeeb Mehsud’s alleged path to militancy.
Second report released by Karachi Police’s fact-finding committee, which rejects all claims in first report and declares Naqeeb innocent.

The family of Naqeeb Mehsud insists that he is innocent of all charges and his social media presence indicates he was into modelling, not terrorism. On 19th January, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar released a statement saying Naqeeb Mehsud was not the member of any militant group. The encounter in which Naqeeb was killed was led by the same official of Karachi Police, SSP Rao Anwar, who is also mentioned in Case # 1 above, and who has been since dismissed from his post. Since this case is also presently under further investigation and since it is also related to the same police official as Case # 1, it has been categorized in this report as a special case.


Major Counter-terrorism operations:

  • 1st January: An Al-Qaeda (AQIS) operative was arrested in Karachi in a raid with a weapon, grenade and a vehicle.
AQIS operative arrested in Karachi.
  • 3rd January: Karachi Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) arrested a terrorist of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (Khalid Khurasani Group), identified as M. Ismail, from Karachi.
TTP militant arrested from Karachi on 3rd Jan.
  • 4th January: CTD foiled a terror bid in Peshawar and arrested 3 terrorists of a banned terrorist group along with weapons, explosives and ammo.
  • 5th January: A cell of 16 TTP militants was busted in Karachi in a joint operation by Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) and Sindh Rangers.


  • 5th January: FC Balochistan seized a huge cache of arms, ammo and explosives belonging to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al-Alami in an intelligence-based operation in Balochistan.
  • 8th January: CTD arrested a member of Islamic State in an intelligence-based operation in Sialkot, Punjab. CTD personnel also recovered explosive material, detonators and other ammunition from him.
  • 16th January: Cache of weapons and explosives belonging to Lashkar-e-Balochistan seized by Pakistani security forces in Hub, Balochistan.




The first month of 2018 saw a consistent rise in a) attacks targeting Pakistani police and other security forces, with a majority of these attacks claimed by TTP, and b) cross-border attacks, with a large portion of these attacks claimed by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and Hizbul Ahrar. Islamic State carried out a total of three attacks in January 2018, all three of them in Quetta, where Islamic State still seems to have an active cell.

A large portion of urban terrorist attacks were reported in one city: Quetta. Balochistan province, which appears to have strong presence of both TTP and Islamic State, remained a challenge for Pakistani security forces, and will continue to remain a challenge in coming months.

No major terrorist attack with a death toll of over 10 was reported in Pakistan in January 2018. The terrorist attack which caused the highest death toll – 7 dead – was the 9th January suicide attack in Quetta which was claimed by TTP.


  • Pakistani security forces should take serious security measures in Quetta to curb attacks on security forces.
  • Pakistani security forces should try to dismantle the highly active IS cell in Quetta.
  •  Pakistani government must introduce different counter-terrorism and counter-extremism programs for police and other security forces to ensure better performance. Political appointments must end. Cases of alleged fake encounters by police validate narrative of terrorist groups like TTP, JuA, etc who have long claimed that Pakistani police and other security forces kill their members in staged shoot-outs. This narrative eventually helps these groups recruit more naive foot soldiers from the public.
  • Pakistani government should repatriate Afghan refugees as soon as possible since they provide camouflage to terrorists, as is proven by latest US drone strike in Kurram Agency which reportedly targeted a facility where terrorists were hiding among Afghan refugees.
  • Pakistani government should stay vigilant against Islamic seminaries where hatred is being preached and take steps to introduce a national counter-extremism program of international standard.



Debunking four arguments Pakistanis commonly make in defense of Pakistan’s current policy on Israel-Palestine

Following the almost a week long visit of Israeli PM Netanyahu to India, there’s once again debate in Pakistan on how should Pakistan respond and whether Pakistan’s existing policy on Israel-Palestine is even workable anymore. There’s developing a growing consensus among Pakistani experts on international relations and defense that Pakistan’s policy on Israel-Palestine can use some balancing. The one thing fresh about this renewed debate is the latest Palestinian betrayal when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recalled Palestinian envoy to Pakistan after coming under pressure from India. It was not only a diplomatic rebuke to Pakistan but also a shameless betrayal that hurt the feelings of many pro-Palestinian Pakistanis, who didn’t expect Palestinians to insult Pakistan considering that last year in 2017 Pakistan almost went to war with US on the issue of Jerusalem. Pakistan co-sponsored the UN resolution condemning President Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem and Pakistani representative at UN Ms Maleeha Lodhi gave a passionate speech against it. Even before that resolution, Pakistan has tabled and co-sponsored countless pro-Palestinian UN resolutions over the years while refusing to recognize Israel. The thing which perhaps hurt Pakistanis even more was the fact that Palestinians recalled their envoy to Pakistan because he shared the stage with Hafiz Saeed, who many Pakistanis see as a freedom fighter figure of sorts due to his stance on the issue of Kashmir – a territory claimed by both Pakistan and India. Palestinians recalling their envoy meant that Palestinians did not fully agree with Pakistan on Kashmir, which was shocking for many Pakistanis, even though Palestinians have historically always supported India over Pakistan.

The recent debate in Pakistan on Israel-Palestine issue is not restricted to the strategist and foreign policy circles but has also poured into the mainstream media. Two Pakistani TV show hosts – Mr Ahmed Qureshi and Mr Rana Mubashir – recently argued in their respective TV shows that Pakistan should revisit its policy towards Israel-Palestine. One could not have imagined something like this just 5 years ago as many Pakistanis are still afraid to talk frankly about this area of foreign policy due to fear of backlash from Islamists and Jihadis. So this is a positive change and something that should be encouraged. Even more recently, former Pakistani President and former Chief of Pakistan’s Armed Forces Mr Musharraf argued in an interview that Pakistan must protect its national interests first and create relations with Israel because that is what is in the interests of Pakistan. In the same interview – as well as in multiple past interviews – Mr Musharraf has also defended his initiative towards Israel when he was in power. So it is safe to say that the debate on Israel-Palestine has once again picked up in Pakistan. Thus I saw this as an opportune moment to write this article to debunk four arguments commonly made by Pakistanis to argue against relations with Israel.


“Public opinion in Pakistan won’t allow relations with Israel/Pakistan cannot create relations with Israel because of public opinion/there will be backlash if Pakistan recognized Israel/(other variations of this argument)”

This argument is perhaps the most common one made by Pakistanis to argue against open relations with Israel. But there are many problems with this argument. For starters, the majority public opinion is uninformed and ignorant of the facts about Israel as well realities of international relations. This is because of several reasons but primary being: 1. continuous bombardment of anti-Israel propaganda, coming from shady sources, through Pakistani media. 2. Islamic extremism in the country and the negative societal attitude towards Jews. 3. lack of political leadership on this issue as well as excessive scapegoating of ‘Jews’ in conspiracy theories in politics by Islamists. All of these things combined play a major role in keeping the public opinion ignorant. It is the job of the state to inform and educate the public, including on matters of national interests. A successful state controls the public opinion while a failed state surrenders to all kinds of ignorant public opinions, effectively compromising on national interests. Even though a large portion of the public opinion may be against relations with Israel, the fact remains that it is in the national interests of Pakistan. This little fact is agreed upon by every single Pakistani foreign policy expert, experienced diplomat and militaryman I have talked to over the years about this issue.

Another question that arises when this argument is used is: does Pakistan consider public opinion when dealing with any other state? Did Pakistan consider public opinion before starting CPEC with China? Did Pakistan hold a referendum before giving military bases to US and supply routes to NATO for Afghanistan war? Does Pakistan hold a referendum or consider public opinion on foreign policy matters relating to Pakistan and US, or Pakistan and Ukraine, or Pakistan and Russia? The answer to that would be no, because there are clear limitations to involvement of public opinion in foreign policy of any country. US went to war in Iraq despite American public opinion being against the war, because US government decided at that time that the Iraq war was in the interests of the US. So it is clear that it would be absurdly unfair – not to Israel but to Pakistan itself – if Pakistan applies different standards to the foreign policy question on Israel.

Media and political leaders can play an important role in educating the public while at the same time the Pakistani state must tame any and all elements who will try to oppose such an initiative. No one is bigger than the state and its national interests. Media, in particular, can play an important role in informing Pakistanis about the ground realities of the Middle East. Pakistani media can start by NOT using shady sources like Hezbollah media, Iranian media, Qatari media, etc on matters relating to Israel. This is same as Israeli media using Indian media to source stories on Pakistan – which you can bet will almost always be negatively tilted against Pakistan. Pakistani media must act more responsibly when it comes to matters relating to Israel and it should always remember that everything said on Pakistani media influences impressionable Pakistanis, many of who do not bother or do not have the means to do research of their own.

Conclusion: Just because public opinion is for or against something doesn’t mean that it is right or in the national interest.


“Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah refused to recognize Israel so we cannot betray his stance”


This argument, like the previous one, is also based on lack of perspective. First of all, without going into the debate whether Jinnah’s stance was morally and strategically right or wrong, let’s first consider why Jinnah refused to recognize Israel: 1. Pakistan itself was a fledgling state in 1948 that was looking for support from Muslim majority countries. 2. Jinnah, like many in the Muslim majority world at the time, did not expect Israel to survive for very long.

Had Jinnah foreseen that Arabs would be soundly defeated every time they imposed war on Israel, that Israel would transform into a hub of innovation and technology, and that Arabs would end up having close backdoor relations with Israel, perhaps Mr Jinnah’s stance would have been different. Jinnah also didn’t foresee that Pakistan would get nothing of strategic benefit for decades of unconditional support for Palestinians. Pakistani unconditional support for Palestinians has not only failed to convince Palestinians to favor Pakistan over India but it has also failed to convince the international community to be more serious about the Kashmir issue, something that is very important to Pakistan. Indeed, Arab countries have historically only paid lip service to the Kashmir issue and the only two reasons many Arab countries have not openly sided with India yet is due to Pakistani military and Pakistani nukes. Remove these two things and you will see many Arab countries officially joining the Indian camp. On the other hand, even the Persians are strategic partners of India – and the Iranian regime is one of the most anti-Israel regimes in the world.

Conclusion: Regardless of whether Jinnah’s stance at the time was right or wrong, we have entered 2018 and what Jinnah thought in 1948 is simply of no significance today whatsoever.


“Kashmir is an issue similar to Palestinian issue in nature and therefore Pakistan cannot compromise on Palestinians/Kashmir and Palestine are similar issues and therefore Pakistan needs a consistent stance/(other variations of this argument)”

First of all let’s start with the basic fact that Kashmir and Palestine are NOT similar in nature. To suggest that not only ignores history but also misses present ground realities. For starters, Pakistan does not wish to see the destruction of India, unlike Palestinian groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, that have a clear manifesto that seeks total annihilation of Israel. Despite having fought multiple bloody wars, Pakistan and India not only have diplomatic relations and great trade & tourist ties and more, but India even gave the Most Favorite Nation (MFN) status to Pakistan. Apart from that, both India and Pakistan are rational actors who know that the ultimate solution to the Kashmir issue will only come through dialogue, especially now that both countries are nuclear powers and cannot afford to fight another war. On the other hand, Palestinian and Arab leaders have historically rejected peace deals with Israel – repeatedly.

I will not go into a lot of detail on this argument because in the past I have extensively talked about why Kashmir and Palestine are not the same and why Pakistanis must stop comparing both, which you can find here.

Conclusion: Kashmir and Palestine are two entirely different issues in nature with very different backgrounds and present ground realities. Comparing both is actually counter-productive for Pakistani stance on Kashmir issue.


“Pakistan cannot recognize Israel because of Al-Aqsa”


Let’s start with the fact that Israel is the only modern democracy in the Middle East that protects full fundamental rights – including religious rights – of all communities, including Muslims of course. When the delegation of Pakistan-Israel Alliance (PIA) visited Israel in 2017, one of the first things that PIA members instantly noticed was the freedom Muslims have in Israel, where they shop in the same markets as Jews, study in same universities as Jewish students and watch movies in the same cinemas as Jews. Muslims are members of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) and are even free to condemn Israel or raise the Islamic prayer call while standing in the Knesset. This is the kind of freedom that Israel gives to its Muslim citizens – something that is missing from the several Muslim majority countries surrounding Israel.


Founder of Pakistan-Israel Alliance (PIA) Noor Dahri with Former Israeli FM Tzipi Livni at a counter-terrorism conference in Israel.
Founder of Pakistan-Israel Alliance (PIA) with former chief of Mossad Mr Shabtai Shavit at a counter-terrorism conference in Israel.
PIA delegation in front of the Western Wall.
PIA delegation outside Israel’s Independence Hall.
PIA delegation in Tel Aviv.

Now let’s talk about Al-Aqsa, which is very close to the heart of every Muslim. Muslim conspiracy theorists have long claimed – even since before Israel was created – that Jews are about to destroy Al-Aqsa and build the Third Temple. And yet today in 2018 Al-Aqsa continues to stand in all its glory, hosting Muslims from all over the world – including Pakistanis who either enter through Jordan or go directly via Israeli airport either on a different passport or on Pakistani passport, which isn’t stamped by Israeli airport officials to keep the visitor safe from persecution by authorities in his home country. While Israel has done everything it could do – from posting Muslim security officers around the mosque area to installing metal detectors to reduce probability of terrorist attacks after the rise of Islamic State – to keep Muslims safe and the mosque functioning, Palestinians have done everything they could to create difficulties not only for Israel but also for themselves. Palestinian youth routinely hide weapons inside Al-Aqsa, which are used against Israeli policemen during riots. Palestinian militants have historically also used Al-Aqsa to meet and plot attacks, thus ruining the sanctity of their own holy site.

For a moment, let’s take out Israel from the equation. Let’s imagine that Israel doesn’t exist. So now you have Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and two dozen other terrorist groups operating in the region. Plus you have genocidal regimes in the region like the Assad regime in Syria and the Ayatollah regime in Iran. Who gets to keep Al-Aqsa? We have seen what happened to holy and historical sites in Iraq and Syria where Islamic State and Iran-backed Shia militias took over. We have also seen what the Wahhabi regime in KSA has done to Islamic holy sites present in Saudi Arabia over the years. Let’s face it: in the present environment, Israel is the best bet for Muslims to keep Al-Aqsa safe and functioning. The right approach for Pakistanis would be to recognize Israel and then to work with Israel to better protect and help in the functioning of Al-Aqsa. Presently the management of Al-Aqsa is the responsibility of the Jordan-backed Islamic Waqf but it is safe to say both Jordan and Israel will welcome any Pakistani help that is meant to be for the betterment of Al-Aqsa. Moreover, Pakistan can also work with Israel to make visiting Al-Aqsa a better experience for Pakistanis in particular. You can read more about this point in my previous article here.

Conclusion: Pakistan needs to take a rational approach towards Al-Aqsa and Jerusalem and should always remember that nothing can convince Israel to go against its own interests – something that is also true for Pakistan.


The arguments debunked above are four of the most used arguments by Pakistanis to argue against relations with Israel. None of these arguments can stand up to scrutiny and honest debate. It is time for Pakistanis to dump these lame arguments and selfishly promote their national interests. It is vital for Pakistanis to understand that Pakistan is not an enemy of Israel and Israel is not the enemy of Pakistan, as Israeli PM Netanyahu rightly said – much to the disappointment of Indians – during his visit to India. Pakistanis must understand that refusing to recognize Israel doesn’t make Israel go away, and vice versa. We are living in a global village where both Pakistan and Israel are part of China’s One Belt One Road Initiative and will sooner or later need to build ties if they want to benefit to the maximum from the Chinese project. In a world where even sworn enemies that are at war keep a line of communication active, Pakistan and Israel not having ties is simply not a viable option anymore. There is no good logical reason why both countries should not have relations. The time for this debate is here and it is now.


30th December 2017: Afghan Taliban released their ‘military achievements’ in the year 2017 

On 30th December Afghan Taliban, also known as Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), released a very long message on their Al-Emarah network detailing their ‘military achievements’ for the year 2017. Below is the message released by IEA on as it is basis: 

Military achievements of the Islamic Emirate in the year 2017
The year 2017 was fraught with frequent conquests, victories and tremendous achievements for the Islamic Emirate which can hardly be covered in one article. The detailed figures of the daily assaults of Mujahidin, their attacks, IED blasts on the enemy vehicles and convoys, missile strikes and various other operations which were regularly published and broadcasted everyday on ‘Alemarah’, the official website of the Islamic Emirate and on other social media platforms like facebook, twitter, whatsapp and telegram etc. cannot be enfolded in one essay, therefore, in the following lines an effort has been made to accommodate some significant achievements of Mujahidin during last year, as a handful out of a heap.
In the first month of the previous year, the Islamic Emirate published the assessment of administration in all areas under its control. It said that 41 districts of Afghanistan are fully controlled by the Islamic Emirate, while tens of other districts are under the control of our heroic Mujahidin with the exception of their centers. In the same month, guerilla attacks were accelerated and intensified in the strategically important cities of Afghanistan. Fifth directorate of national security zone in Kabul was the witness of huge blasts, while a crucial meeting of officials of the national security organ in Lashkargah city of Helmand province became the target of sacrificial attack in which 16 intelligence officers were killed. Besides these meticulous attacks, Jihadi operations remained incessant on the daily basis throughout the country despite the chilly cold weather. In the same month Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesman of the Islamic Emirate, sent an open letter to the American president Donald Trump to convince him to accept the prevailing ground realities in Afghanistan and the region.
In February 2017, the commander of American forces General Nicolson confessed that their forces are stuck inside Afghanistan and see no perceptible progress in the battlefield. In the same month Shorabak district in Kandahar province was completed liberated from the enemy in which huge amount of arms and ammunition were seized by Mujahidin. Jihadi attacks were also accelerated in ‘Darqad’ district of ‘Takhar’ province. Besides various other achievements in these battles, a helicopter of the internal mercenary army was hit by Mujahidin which crashed in Archi district of Kunduz province. Another significant move in February was the killing of 11 stooge soldiers by an infiltrator Mujahid in Lashkargah city, the capital of Helmand province who then managed to join Mujahidin of the Islamic Emirate in the area. In February, His Excellency Amir-ul-Momineen Sheikh Hibatullah Akhunzada, the head of the Islamic Emirate issued a statement in which both Mujahidin and the general masses were asked to fully participate in the plantation campaign for making the country green and pleasant. This announcement was warmly welcomed by the people and numerous saplings were planted throughout the country.
In March 2017, fierce Jihadi operations were launched in the capital city Kabul. On 1st March the Recruitment center, the directorate of sixth security zone and the center of 241 brigade were brought under successive self-sacrificial attacks. According to verified reports tens of stooge forces were killed and wounded in these attacks. A few days later Tala-o-Barfak district of Baghlan province was completely liberated and captured by Mujahidin. Similarly an American reconnaissance drone was hit and brought down by Mujahidin near the strategic Bagram airbase. In another storming attack Neish district in Kandahar province was conquered by Mujahidin of the Islamic Emirate in which 20 internal soldiers also surrendered.

In the same month, meticulous martyrdom attacks were carried by our heroic Mujahidin on the strategic Khost airport in which heavy financial losses and casualties were inflicted on the enemy. Similarly, an infiltrated Mujahid courageously killed 5 American invading soldiers in Helmand province. In the second half of March, a huge military base of the mercenary national army was conquered by Mujahidin. Similarly the most strategic Sangin district in Helmand province was also completely liberated from the enemy and the white flag of the Islamic Emirate was hoisted on its center. Though it was extremely cold in March in the central parts of Afghanistan, but still the weather conditions could not halt the warm Jihadi activities of Mujahidin. In Saripul province, the stooge enemy was so confused and embarrassed by Mujahidin’s successive attacks and progress that the provincial council expressed its concern about the fall of provincial capital. In the same month, vast areas of Shah Wali Kot and Khakraze districts in Kandahar province were liberated while several military posts were captured. At the end of March, the ‘Invitation and Guidance’ Commission of the Islamic Emirate announced that 565 workers (including officials and forces) left the puppet regime and amalgamated with Mujahidin.

In the beginning of April, the Jihadi supporters of their surrendered leader ‘Hikmatyar’ announced their schism from his party and unification with the Islamic Emirate. On Friday 21st April, unprecedented huge and fatal self-sacrificial attacks were carried out on Shaheen corps in Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan. In this deadly attack more than 500 stooge forces, most of them notorious commando forces, were killed and similar more were wounded. This massive attack stunned the whole puppet regime which announced a day of national mourning. Similarly the so called defense minister of the stooge admin and the chief of staff of mercenary army resigned from their posts. Following this massive attack, a tactic blast took place on the notorious armed militia, locally called Campaign, near the old airport in Khost province in which tens of American mercenaries were killed and wounded. On Friday 28th April, ‘Mansoori’ operations were announced and launched by the Islamic Emirate to accelerate Jihadi attacks throughout the country. On the very first day of Mansoori operations, besides several minor and major attacks, Zebak district in Badakhshan province was completely liberated while the main road between Kunduz and Baghlan provinces was also controlled by the heroic and devoted Mujahidin of the Islamic Emirate.
On Monday 1st May, Ghormach district was liberated by Mujahidin while ten other military posts were conquered by them in the adjacent Sayyad district of Saripul province. In the meantime Mujahidin launched widespread attacks in Khan Abad district of Kunduz province in which the main Takhar road was blocked for the enemy and several villages were cleared from the stooge forces. Simultaneous with Khan Abad attacks, Jihadi operations were launched in various other areas and the center of Qala-i-Zal district came under Mujahidin’s control. On the other side, crucial attacks were initiated in several districts of Kunar province by Mujahidin, in which heavy financial losses and casualties were inflicted on the enemy besides conquest of numerous military posts. Mujahidin started operations on Waghaz district in Ghazni province by conquering all military posts except the district center. Similarly a fierce encounter in Shahjoi district of Zabul province left 25 stooge soldiers dead.
In the closing days of May, heavy blows were given to the enemy in Shah Wali Kot district of Kandahar province. In two successive attacks, two bases of the enemy were conquered and overall 80 stooge soldiers were killed. The last fatal attack of this month was carried out against the Quick Reaction Force in Khost province in which 22 mercenary forces were killed. 

In June last year, huge Jihadi operations were launched in Imam Sahib district of Kunduz province. Similarly in Khas Uruzgan district of Uruzgan province five military post were conquered by Mujahidin while vast areas in Khawaja Sabzposh district of Faryab province were cleared from the enemy. In the eastern Nangarhar province, 4 American invading soldiers were killed by an infiltrated Mujahid while a meticulous self-sacrificial attack was carried out on a gathering of mercenary militiamen in Helmand province in which tens of these forces were killed and wounded. In this month Darzab district in Jozejan province was surrendered to Mujahidin including 60 stooge soldiers. Similarly, the recruitment process of unrestrained Arbaki militiamen in Chamtal district of Balkh province was sabotaged and several Arbakis were killed in a successful Mujahidin attack. In the ending days of June, hundreds of prisoners were set free by Mujahidin in different parts of the country as a sign of good-will of the Islamic Emirate and this move was widely welcomed by the pious and peace-loving masses of our country.
July 2017 was fraught with significant victories and Jihadi achievements. In the beginning of this month, Mujahidin launched their attacks near the center of Kunduz province by conquering several military posts in the suburban areas and a helicopter of the internal stooge enemy was also hit and destroyed during these operations. In the first half of July, the stooge enemy forces launched widespread assaults in Nad Ali district of Helmand province but they faced tough resistance from our heroic Mujahidin. In this fierce battle of Nad Ali district, tens of stooge commando forces were killed and wounded. It was confirmed by the Pentagon that considerable losses and casualties were inflicted on the freshly deployed American forces during this fighting. Though a heroic Jihadi commander of the Islamic Emirate (named Haji Hewad) was martyred in this fighting but on the other hand colossal losses and casualties were inflicted on the enemy too. In this month, a police convoy in Khak-i-Jabbar area in the south of Kabul came under Mujahidin’s attack in which tens of mercenary policemen were killed and wounded while a large amount of equipment was also seized by Mujahidin. In the same month several foreign invading forces including an American colonel were killed. In Arghandab district of Zabul province and the Central Baghlan district of Baghlan province several military post were captured from the enemy. In Grishk district of Helmand province massive attack was launched by Mujahidin and the defense line of the enemy was dispersed by self-sacrificial attacks, in which tens of enemy soldiers were killed and wounded. It is worth-mentioning that in Grishk fighting, Abdul Rahman Khalid, the beloved son of head of the Islamic Emirate Amir-ul-Mominin Sheikh Hibattulah Akhunzada also carried out a self-sacrificial attack and gave his life for the lofty cause of Islam and freedom of our country. Though in this fighting, Mujahidin could not capture the district but the enemy forces were badly crushed by inflicting huge losses and casualties on them. Similarly in Khawaja Sabzposh and Dolat Abad districts of Faryab province and Khan Abad district of Kunduz province fierce attacks were carried out by Mujahidin, in which several areas were controlled besides inflicting losses and casualties on the enemy. In July Guzargah-i-Noor district of Baghlan province was completely liberated from the enemy while 20 notorious Arbaki militiamen were killed in confrontation with Mujahidin in Tagab district of Badakhshan province. 

On Sunday 23rd of July, the important Tewara district in Ghor province and the strategic Kohistanat district in Faryab province were liberated and controlled by Mujahidin. In wake of these victories, local people rose up against the offences of local stooge forces in Shahrak district of Ghor province. They liberated the whole area and then announced unification with Mujahidin of the Islamic Emirate. On Tuesday 25th July, the significant and mountainous Jani Khail district in Paktia province was completely conquered and liberated, in which tens of military tanks and ranger type vehicles were seized by Mujahidin besides inflicting heavy losses and casualties on the wicked enemy. In the closing days of July, a huge base of the mercenary army was conquered by the heroic Mujahidin of the Islamic Emirate in unique Jihadi operations in which all the 74 stooge forces stationed there were killed. Several military posts were captured by Mujahidin in Want-Wigal district of Kunar province from the enemy. Similarly 25 stooge soldiers were killed in Nawa district of Helmand province. And the security chief of Gilan district in Ghazni province was killed along with 30 other mercenary forces in a meticulous attack of Mujahidin.
Just like July, August 2017 was also fraught with magnificent achievements for Mujahidin. During this month, Jani Khail district of Paktia province was liberated for the second time. The huge stooge army which was deployed for recapturing the district was badly defeated by Mujahidin and fled from the battle field. Similarly Ghormach district in Badghis province was liberated for the second time. Khamab district in Jozejan province and the relocated center of Zana Khan district in Ghazni province were also captured by Mujahidin. On Friday 28th August, Gomal district in Paktika province was liberated by courageous Mujahidin of the Islamic Emirate, in which heavy losses and casualties were inflicted on the enemy. In August, two helicopters of the enemy were hit and brought down in Nangarhar and Logar provinces. Similarly, in various fatal attacks in Logar, Maidan-Wardak and Kandahar provinces heavy losses and casualties were inflicted on the savage American invading forces.
In the beginning of September, in a heroic sacrificial attack in the third gate of the strategic Bagram base, several American forces were killed and wounded. Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesman of the Islamic Emirate announced that this was the response of dishonoring the Kalima (declaration of Islamic Faith) in Parwan province. At the same time, a helicopter of the enemy was hit and brought down in Daikundi province. Some days later, a second fatal self-sacrificial attack was carried out in Bagram airbase. Since the savage invading enemy was stunned by these deadly attacks therefore they resorted to relentless and indiscriminate bombardment in Ghazni and Nangarhr provinces, in which numerous innocent people were martyred and injured. In this month, Bandar bazaar in Faryab province was captured by Mujahidin. In the meanwhile media reported that three security chiefs of Jaghatu district in Ghazni province were consecutively killed in Mujahidin’s attacks during last one month.

In November last year, a deadly self-sacrificial attack was carried out on the Special Forces in Kandahar province, in which heavy losses and casualties were inflicted on the enemy. Similarly a police training center in Maidan Wardak province and a military base in Nawa district of Helmand province were brought under meticulous self-sacrificial attacks, inflicting colossal losses and casualties on the enemy. On Sunday 12th November, Tariq Shah Bahrami, the so called defense minister of puppet regime admitted that Taliban attacks have significantly increase by 12% as compared to the previous year. In this month, a motor bomb attack was carried out on the savage foreign invaders while an enemy helicopter was hit and brought down in Barg-i-Matal district of Nuristan province. In the closing days of November, widespread attacks were launched against the enemy in Delaram district of Nimroz province while the important Naisher area in Balchiragh district of Faryab province was captured by Mujahidin.
The last month of last year was also fraught with magnificent Jihadi achievements for Mujahidin. A successful self-sacrificial attack killed 15 notorious ‘Sanguri Arbaki’ militiamen in Kandahar province, meticulous martyrdom seeking attacks took place against the savage foreign invaders in Kandahar province, Mujahidin advanced on multiple fronts in Faryab and Takhar provinces and various other areas, all of them taking place while it was heavily snowing in most parts of the country due to the arrival of winter season.
This quick and brief analysis and evaluation can easily prove that last year was full of huge losses and casualties for both the savage foreign invaders as well as their internal mercenaries. On the contrary it was fraught with magnificent and historic achievements and victories for the heroic and devoted Mujahidin of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

In mid-September, twenty military posts were captured by Mujahidin in Almar district of Faryab province by bringing vast areas under their control. Similarly ten military posts of the enemy were conquered in Khawaja Ghar district in Takhar province, in which huge amount of arms and ammunition were confiscated too. Colossal losses and casualties were also inflicted on foreign occupying forces in the self-sacrificial attack at Jalal Abad airport in Nangarhar province and the meticulous fatal attack on them in Kabul. In the closing days of September, James Mattis, the American defense secretary was attacked while he was landing at the highly secured Khawaj Rawash airport of Kabul. This timely attack terrified the American invaders and prompted them to warn their nationals to refrain from unnecessarily travel to Afghanistan. The Americans were so terrified that a few weeks later when the American state secretary visited Afghanistan, he could not dare to leave Bagram airbase and Ashraf Ghani, the head of puppet regime and other high ranking stooge officials were summoned there to meet him which was against all internationally recognized norms and rules of diplomacy.
On Thursday 28th September, the significant Maruf district in Kandahar province was liberated by Mujahidin eventhough the much touted handover of multiple Black Hawk helicopters took place a few days earlier. In this battle, tens of stooge soldiers were killed and wounded. After that, the strategic Fanduqistan valley in Siyagard district of Parwan province was captured and the local notorious Arbaki militiamen were expelled from the area.
In the beginning of October, Mujahidin made significant progress in Chora district of Uruzgan province, while 20 stooge forces were killed in fighting. A huge American transport plane was hit and destroyed by Mujahidin in Parwan province. Several military posts were conquered in Pashtun Kot district of Faryab province while Mirzaolang valley in Saripul province was completely cleared from the enemy.
In mid-October, colossal losses and casualties were suffered by the savage foreign invaders and their internal mercenaries. On Tuesday 17th October, a huge self-sacrificial attack was carried out on Shilgar district in Ghazni province, in which tens of mercenaries were killed and wounded and all suburban areas of this district except center came under Mujahidin’s control. On the same day, meticulous and deadly attacks were carried out by the heroic Mujahidin of the Islamic Emirate on the main security headquarter and the general managing department in Gardez city, the center of Paktia province in which more than a hundred mercenaries including the provincial security chief were killed and the premises of the headquarter was levelled to ground. At the same time, Sheb Koh district in Farah province was liberated by Mujahidin. A day later, special operations were launched on a huge military base in Maiwand district in Kandahar province in which 60 stooge soldiers were killed while the base was completely demolished.
In the second half of October, a huge attack was launched on Jughatu district in Ghazni province. And a self-sacrificial attack was carried out on a vehicle carrying workers of Marshal Fahim military academy near Qambar square in the heart of Kabul by inflicting heavy losses and casualties on the stooge military officials. In Laghman province an infiltrated heroic Mujahid killed several American soldiers. Crushing attacks were carried out against the enemy in Char Chino district of Uruzgan province. A helicopter of savage American forces was hit and brought down by Mujahidin in Kharwar district of Logar province during their raid on the area. Significant losses and casualties were inflicted on brutal American invaders in a huge blast which took place inside the strategic Jalal Abad airport in Nangarhar province. And the relocated center of Khogyani district in Ghazni province was also conquered by Mujahidin.

The End. 

Winter has come for Iran’s Mullah regime 

The growing widespread protests in Iran may have surprised many people – and it’s okay if you’re among those people – but you’d be forgiven for that because you have been constantly told by the Western media and Obama leftovers in the US government that thanks to the nuclear deal, we have opened Iran to moderation and more people are flocking behind Rouhani and other “moderates”. If you are among the people who believed that horseshit, I have a beachfront property to sell to you. 

The reality is – which the Iranians know all too well – that the selection (not election) of Rouhani was an eyewash by the Mullah regime to polish its image in the West while getting wild benefits from the Western governments. Obama, all too eager to create a lasting legacy before election which eventually elected Trump, not only did everything to validate the Mullah regime and lie & mislead the American public, but also used various methods to try to silence any criticism of the admin’s handling of Iran-related affairs, including the nuclear deal. While doing this, Obama admin not only emboldened the regime but also undermined US allies like Saudi Arabia and Israel. The picture Obama painted of “moderates” among Mullahs was a skewed picture and time proved that indeed, nothing that comes out of the current regime will even remotely resemble moderation. It’s laughably absurd how easily regime’s babyface Javad Zarif fooled many Western officials into believing that they could achieve something with the current regime. Indeed, the concessions he was able to get for the regime from naive Western officials, pushed by the all too desperate Obama admin, indicate that he has been one of the most successful international operatives of the regime in recent years. 

Obama, in his desperation to create a legacy out of something that only had the potential to produce horror, failed to support the Green Movement of 2009. And in doing so, the West missed a real opportunity to remove the criminal Mullah regime and restore the Persian people to their old glory. Before the 1979 revolution, Iran used to be a marvelous place, full of life and culture and colors. The Islamic revolution brought a glooming darkness of misery and hopelessness over the people of Iran. Iran’s misadventures in its neighborhood, perpetual vitriolic rhetoric against the West and Israel, support for terrorism in the world, enmity towards Saudi Arabia, destroying Lebanon from within via Hezbollah and the more recent occupation of Syria were all viewed by disgust and contempt by many, many Iranians, who were facing only the worse consequences of the Mullah regime. 

And now once again Iranians have had enough. But these protests are nothing like the Green Movement. They’re more fierce. The people are 100 times more disgusted by the regime today than they were in 2009. Now Iranians are chanting Death to Khamenei, instead of Death to America. Now Iranians are chanting Death to Rouhani, instead of Death to Israel. This has not happened before. Iranians have once again proven how Western experts who claim to know-all actually know so little about Iran and what the people of Iran want. The people of Iran want change. The people of Iran want to get rid of the Islamic Mullah regime. The people yearn for freedom and real democracy. For far too long the regime has pointed towards the external ‘American-Jewish-Wahhabi enemy’ as the reason behind misery of Iranian people while the Mullahs swam in wealth and riches. As many great Twitter threads today will attempt to tell you (hereherehere) what’s going on in Iran and how that is linked to economic, social and political issues – and a lot of that is entirely true – but the one key thing that is getting missed is the psychological impact of these protests on the Mullahs and their supporters. What we are seeing is the biggest proof of the failure of the Islamic regime, that came to power with populist slogans, but stunningly failed to deliver to the people. This is our case against the very idea of theocracy.  The Mullahs will not like this and will do everything in their power to muzzle the protests. Indeed, there were already reports of jammers being used by the regime to disrupt communication between protesters and there have also been mass arrests of peaceful protesters. 

And so it is all the more necessary for Western governments to stand with the people of Iran. US State Department has already released a powerful statement calling on “all nations” to publicly support the Iranian people and their demands. But that is not enough. It is also necessary for Western governments to help the protesters in other ways as they will be needing that help when facing the brutal state apparatus controlled by savage Mullahs. We cannot seriously expect the people to do everything on their own. West waited too long when Syrians took to the streets against Assad regime, which led to many Syrians joining Jihadi groups and made it easier for the regime to paint all rebels as terrorists. As a result, today Assad is still in power while millions of Syrians are dead and displaced. That must not be repeated here. We cannot afford to allow the regime to crush these peaceful protesters with force. Mistreatment of these peaceful protesters should have consequences for the regime. It is vital for US and other Western governments as well as regional Middle Eastern governments to support – and not just vocally – the much deserving people of Iran.  Here I would propose making support for Iranian protesters a prioritized part of the joint working group formed between US and Israel to tackle the threat being posed by the Mullah regime. This will ensure that support for pro-freedom elements in Iran becomes a vital part of US policy in the region and the Israeli help will be a bonus. US and Israel should further try to convince more states to join this group until there is a Coalition of sorts, for the final round. The final round should be the complete removal of the present regime. 

Temporary peace and freedom will be no good to the people of Iran if the successes are rolled back in future and so the Western governments need to be very sure about the steps they are going to take and their success rate. Only the complete and successful removal of the present regime can return Iranians to their former glory and help the region move towards long lasting peace. We cannot afford to squander this opportunity and therefore we must act fast and wisely. 


A new Jihadi group by the name of Ikhwan-ul-Mujahideen Pakistan (IuMP) emerges in AfPak region

Follow my thread here:


Wilayat Kashmir is here: Islamic State officially launches new franchise ISJK (Islamic State in Jammu and Kashmir)

With the circulation of the first ever IS video from Kashmir where a masked man can be seen pledging allegiance to IS and calling on Kashmiri Muslims – including all other Jihadi groups but Ansar Ghazwatul Hind in particular – to join the ranks of ISJK and wage Jihad for the establishment of Islamic caliphate.

The video was produced and released as a joint venture by two semi-official Islamic State media networks: Al-Qaraar and Nida-e-Haq. Al-Qaraar network is solely dedicated to ISJK while Nida-e-Haq is the semi-official Urdu network of IS which posts IS material from all IS franchises, including claims for attacks, in Urdu. Nida-e-Haq is believed to be close to Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP).

You can follow my thread on the first video from Wilayat Kashmir here:

Growing ISKP threat on Pak-Afghan border

Downloadable PDF version published at Command Eleven


ISIL fighters in Afghanistan, with their commander, Abu Rashid in the middle, during a documentary by Al Jazeera and Euronews, inside their territory.

While Islamic State is on the run in Middle East where it is facing a resounding defeat that has resulted in territory loss, at the same time the Islamic State threat in Afghanistan has been steadily rising since last several months and regardless of how rosy the picture American officials paint, fact is Afghanistan is entering into uncharted waters where everyone is fighting their own war and everything is for the taking. In this complex mix, the rising threat of Islamic State Khorasan chapter, more commonly known as ISKP, is giving both Afghan security forces and Taliban some tough time.

Couple of months ago, a Taliban commander Qari Hekmat in Jawzjan province defected to ISKP in northern Afghanistan. He and fighters loyal to him then went on to enslave local women and set up a training school for 300-600 children.

Afghan kids in an ISKP training school.

In early October, Hekmat’s fighters overran most Taliban positions in Qush Tepa district. Taliban in return launched their counter-offensive, which failed. While the Taliban were able to re-take a number of villages, Hekmat’s fighters retook those areas in their own counter-counter offensive. Eventually, the Taliban had to retreat. There are still shockwaves within Taliban ranks after they faced stunning defeat at the hands of ISKP in several key battles. Earlier in February 2017 six Red Cross workers were killed in an ambush in the same restive Jawzjan province. The strong presence established some six months ago in two districts of Jawzjan province marks a new inroad in Afghanistan by Islamic State. Hekmat’s Taliban fighters had long held sway in Darz Aab and Qushtepa districts, with the Afghan government having little control, residents who fled to Shiberghan, some 120 km away (75 miles). When Hekmat had a falling-out with the central Taliban leadership and switched allegiance, his men were joined by about 400 IS-affiliated fighters from China, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Chechnya and elsewhere, according to Darz Aab’s district chief, Baz Mohammad Dawar. Foreign militants have long operated in the border areas of Afghanistan, and in Jawzjan they had typically moved from place to place, occasionally cooperating with the Taliban. But once they came to stay, life changed for the worse, according to three families and local officials who spoke to Reuters, even by the war-weary standards of Afghanistan. “IS took our women as slaves, or forcefully made them marry a fighter. The Taliban never did that,” said Sayed Habibullah, a Darz Aab resident. “The Taliban had mercy and we spoke the same language, but IS fighters are foreigners, much more brutal and barbaric.” Jawzjan’s police chief Faqir Mohammad Jawzjani said, “Whether it is Islamic State or Taliban, they are our enemy. And they have to be eliminated.”

There were some recent reports that Taliban have captured the Baloch area and two security posts in Sherin Tagab district of northern Faryab province. This area was being held by pro-government militias. While Taliban have been putting up a fight and achieving some successes, ISKP is still giving hard time to Taliban in Nangarhar, where ISKP continues to claim more attacks every week, targeting both Afghan security forces as well as Taliban. See ISKP claims for minor and major attacks in Nangarhar here, here, here, here, here, and here. ISKP also recently released a photo report from Nangarhar purportedly showing ISKP battles against Taliban.

From IS photo report
From IS photo report
From IS photo report


ISKP clashes with Taliban and Afghan security forces have also been receiving almost consistent coverage in Islamic State’s Al-Naba magazine. For instance, in issue # 108 of Al-Naba, IS mentioned in detail its ops against Taliban and Afghan forces in Nangarhar. In the same issue of Al-Naba, IS also claimed ISKP fighters have captured 18 villages in Khogyani, Nangarhar from Taliban. This is the same area where intense battles between Taliban and ISKP have been raging for last couple of months now.

Screenshot from Al-Naba issue 108
Screenshot from Al-Naba issue 108


There are also multiple credible reports that foreign fighters are joining ISKP in droves. “A large number of Daesh fighters are foreign fighters”, Afghan envoy to US Hamdullah Mohib had said in November. Those numbers have been further bolstered by “a small number of Afghans within,” Mohib said. “The Taliban, some of the factions — some of the irreconcilable elements that are much more extreme — are also joining Daesh.” More recently, in December, there were credible reports of French foreign fighters of ISKP in Afghanistan. This is being viewed as a worrying trend by many Afghanistan watchers. “A number” of Algerian and French nationals entered the largely ISKP-controlled district of Darzab in northern Jowzjan province in November, said district governor Baaz Mohammad Dawar. At least two women were among the arrivals, who were travelling with a translator from Tajikistan as well as Chechens and Uzbeks, Dawar added. European and Afghan security sources in Kabul confirmed Dawar’s claim that French citizens were among the fighters — though, one cautioned, “we do not know how many there are”. Mohammad Raza Ghafoori, the Jowzjan provincial governor’s spokesman, said French-speaking Caucasian men and women had been seen training ISKP fighters in Darzab. He cited reports saying that around 50 children, some as young as 10, have also been recruited by the fighters. Darzab residents told AFP that roughly 200 foreigners had set up camp just a few hundred metres from the village of Bibi Mariam. Locals along with district governor Dawar warned the fighters were also exploiting natural resources, such as precious stones and metals. One of the security sources said that two of the French had been nicknamed “The Engineers” and appeared to be organising some sort of extraction, “but we do not know what they are looking for”.

All this time ISKP has continued to recruit young men, children and women in Jawzjan province. “During the winter it has been difficult to fight in Afghanistan as it is a mountainous country, but in the harsh winter, the militants remarkably step up efforts to recruit locals. The ISKP militants, in Darzab and Qush Tepa as well, are trying to enroll more people before the next spring and summer, known as fighting season,” an Afghan security official said. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said ISKP has been working on a plan to capture more areas in the two important districts laying in southwestern of provincial capital Shiberghan city. “Nowadays, the Taliban lost all territory in Darzab and have no presence there. Only central parts and surrounding areas of the district headquarters in Darzab is controlled by the government forces and most parts of the district are under IS control,” said Halima Sadat, a member of local Afghan provincial council.

When ISKP opened shop in Afghanistan, American officials estimated the number of ISKP fighters to be around 1,000. But my research indicates that this figure is old and obsolete and presently ISKP has somewhere around 3,000-4,000 active fighters and facilitators. This figure includes ISKP recruits currently going through training camps. If these figures are even near accurate, this growth projection shows that within the next one year ISKP will likely have around 8,000-10,000 active fighters and facilitators.

More Attacks, More Chaos 

While the caliphate is in decline in Middle East, it is waging a ferocious war in AfPak region and has been claiming attacks and assassinations almost every day. ISKP, right now, is the most active franchise of Islamic State, both in terms of media activity as well as on-ground operations. While ISKP and Taliban have been clashing in battles in Afghanistan, these intra-Jihadi clashes actually constitute a minority of ISKP ops. A majority of ISKP operations are being carried out against Afghan security forces and government. Most recent major attack carried out by ISKP against Afghan government was in Kabul on 18th December where ‘inghamasi’ ISKP fighters attacked building of Afghan intelligence agency NDS.

Aftermath of ISKP attack on NDS building
Islamic State released photo of the two Jihadis – identified by IS as Salman Al-Khurasani and Saifullah Al-Kunduzi – responsible for attack on NDS facility in Kabul

Meanwhile in Pakistan, ISKP carried out an attack targeting a Methodist Church in Quetta, just one day before the attack on NDS building in Kabul. Two would-be suicide bombers entered the church – where around 400 people were attending a prayer – with the intention to kill as many as possible. But thanks to the bravery of a Pakistani cop, only one suicide bomber could detonate his jacket. The other would-be bomber was taken out by the cop with a headshot. A total of nine people were killed in the attack and another 57 injured. While Pakistani officials called it a failed attack because it didn’t go as ISKP had planned, the fact is ISKP doesn’t actually consider such attacks as failed attacks. As far as ISKP is concerned, this was a successful attack. When recently a Bangladeshi would-be suicide bomber attempted to carry out a bombing in Manhattan, IS fanboys as well as IS magazine Al-Naba praised him and called it a successful infiltration. To IS, an attacker simply successfully infiltrating through the security apparatus of a state is enough to call it a successful attack, regardless of number of casualties.

The Church in Quetta, Pakistan that was targeted by IS

The attack in Quetta claimed by ISKP was not the only attack in Pakistan that was claimed by ISKP. Sure enough, this attack only came on the heels of similar smaller attacks in Pakistan that were claimed by ISKP. Two of such attacks are:

  1. 24th November 2017: SVBIED (Suicide Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device) attack targeting police official Additional I.G. M. Ashraf’s convoy which killed him and at least one other cop in Hayatabad, Peshawar. The attack was claimed by Islamic State. You can follow my Twitter thread on this attack here.
AIG M. Ashraf Noor



2. 29th November 2017: A gun attack in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad targeting a Shia mosque killed an official of Intelligence Bureau (IB) along with one other Shia man, and four were injured. This attack was first claimed by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al-Alami and later by Islamic State. This wasn’t the first such attack in Pakistan that was claimed by both these groups. LeJA had made some glaring mistakes in its claim and then what followed was an online spat between LeJA and ISKP Jihadis. You can follow my Twitter thread on this attack here.


Enemy At the Gates

Earlier in the summer of 2017, ISKP captured Tora Bora, which gives it easy access into Pakistan through a terrain that is almost impossible for any security force to man up to 100%. The remote, mountainous area contains a complex set of caves bordering Pakistan and became well-known because former al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden was cornered there by an American-led team, a few months after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Amusingly, the Tora Bora cave network was financed by CIA and this is the same Tora Bora where US dropped MOAB in April of 2017.

The growing ISKP presence along Pak-Afghan border and increase in ISKP-claimed attacks in Pakistan poses a great challenge for Pakistan, that has still not been able to properly secure the Afghan border. Sure enough, attacks against Pakistani military convoys, soldiers and check-posts along Pak-Afghan border are almost routine now. No week passes by when one of the many groups operating in the region doesn’t claim an attack along Pak-Afghan border targeting Pakistani troops. Most of these attacks are claimed by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan but it is only a matter of time before ISKP starts launching its own coordinated offensive ops against Pakistani forces from Afghanistan. This would pose a dilemma for Pakistan because while security cooperation between Pakistan-Afghanistan has somewhat improved recently, it’s still nowhere near where it should be for Pakistan to be able to successfully tackle the ISKP threat. Pakistani Generals also do not trust the Afghan Generals and many Pakistani intelligence officials privately say that elements within Afghan security services are aiding ISKP in an attempt to use it against Taliban and Pakistan. These concerns are not restricted to Pakistan but are also being voiced in Afghanistan by several Afghan officials. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who was once backed by United States, has even said that US is providing weapons to ISKP and is using the group as a ‘tool‘. Somewhat similar concerns have been shared by Russians and the Chinese. While one can debate whether these statements from different parties involved in Afghanistan is just rhetoric, disinformation or has some truth in it, what can be said with absolute surety is that Pakistani Generals would not like to and cannot afford to completely leave the ISKP threat up to Afghan security forces to handle. Indeed, Afghan security forces simply don’t have the capacity to handle the threats it is supposed to tackle in Afghanistan and it has failed to stop cross-border attacks against Pakistani troops. This leaves Pakistan with very few options, and all of those options start with Pakistan taking matters into own hands. It would be foolish of Pakistan to rely on US allied forces and Afghan troops to come to its aid if ISKP launches coordinated cross-border assaults against Pakistan.

Another worrying factor for Pakistan will prove to be IS foreign fighters, particularly those who have fought actively in Syria and Iraq. These are battle-hardened experienced fighters and have somewhat excelled in waging guerrilla warfare. These fighters hold the potential to launch spectacular and bloody cross-border attacks once they have made themselves familiar with their new neighborhood.

While it is true that US allied forces have been carrying out operations against ISKP in Afghanistan, American officials as well as key Afghan officials believe to be close to US have consistently downplayed the ISKP threat. These officials say that ISKP is still not as big of a threat for Afghanistan as is the Taliban, but this notion may very soon prove to be a misguided one. The newly empowered CIA, thanks to President Donald Trump, is now going on a new covert assassination campaign in Afghanistan to target key Taliban commanders and ideologues. While American officials will obviously like to claim that they hope to cripple the Taliban insurgency with this campaign, one would be doubtful of its predicted success. For starters, a question arises: what happens to the militants loyal to a commander who has just been assassinated in a CIA op? Maybe US & Afghans will try to recruit them to join pro-government militias, but the more likely scenario is a large portion of these militants would end up joining the more radical ISKP. The most radical elements within Taliban already hold sympathetic views towards ISKP and while most of them have been kept in line by Taliban commanders so far, a few successful CIA assassinations of these commanders is all it’s going to take for many of these more radical Taliban insurgents to switch sides. Most militants ideally want to fight for the side that is winning, and with Taliban losing men to ISKP and ISKP gaining strength as it reinforces its presence in Afghanistan, it is also likely that many militants from pro-government militias raised by Kabul may consider switching sides. These pro-government militants have been already defecting to the Taliban in low numbers but that could also change soon. If history is witness to anything, raising militias in Afghanistan has almost always backfired.

Afghanistan will continue to be a terrorist pressure-cooker for next several months but we all – and most importantly Pakistan – need to worry and prepare for the time when this pressure cooker explodes.


The Cost of War

War is not cheap. A wise nation goes to war only when it has already won the war. A war always needs financing and a coherent strategy. When two nations go to all-out war, there is usually a winner and a loser. But there’s also that cost that has to be paid, and that cost is usually of three types: the cost of starting the war, the cost of fighting the war and the cost of losing the war. It should also be noted that not of all this cost is necessarily financial. In the old days, the cost mostly consisted of captured booty, slaves and land. Today, in the modern world, things are somewhat more civilized and so the nations – the winner and the defeated – sign peace deals at the end of the war in hope there will be peace in future. But the cost is still paid by the side that has been defeated.

One of the things the much criticized Munich Agreement – which is rightly derided as possibly the worst peace deal signed in modern history to date – attempted to do was to avoid the cost of the war for the Allies. French and British officials were genuinely pleased and hopeful – rather naively as it later emerged – that the agreement with Nazi Germany will bring real peace and avoid taking Western Europe into a very costly war with Nazi Germany. Later when the WWII was over and the Allies emerged victorious, the cost of the war was imposed on the Axis powers. Even though United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, that didn’t matter when it came to imposing the cost of the war on Japan in the end. People still argue whether dropping the bombs on Japan was the right thing to do or not but regardless of that, the post-war cost imposed on Japan made sense and no one argued about it. It was considered the right and the just thing to do. Japan and Germany were occupied for a good period of time after the war and whatever deals were signed between Allies and Axis powers post-war, they were signed on the terms of the Allies. Because they were the winners. But most importantly, they didn’t start the war – the Axis powers did.

Now let’s switch to the Arab-Israeli conflict, 1947-48. You have a tiny new country with no real armed forces. There’s a UN Partition Plan which Israelis gratefully accepted but Arabs rejected with contempt. How dare they talk about putting a Jewish state in our heart, the Arabs said at the time. And so several Arab states – which were much larger in size and had powerful armies – went to war against the tiny new nation of Israel. They thought it will be a cakewalk and they’ll win easily. But they didn’t. They started a war which they lost in one year and ended up giving land to Israel that wasn’t supposed to be Israel’s in the UN Partition Plan which Arabs themselves had rejected. For Arabs it was an attempt to wipe out the Jews from that portion of the map. For Jews – who had just faced a holocaust in Europe – the war was the ultimate fight for survival. If Israelis had lost that war, there wouldn’t be a single Jew today in Middle East. Fast forward to 1967. Sure enough, Israel attacked first, but only when it was absolutely certain that the Arab attack was imminent. While the ally of Arabs, the Soviet Union, played a role in igniting the conflict by feeding false intelligence to Arabs, Israelis were quite concerned about what their ally, the United States, would say if they were the ones who attacked first. Israelis only went to action when they realized that their ally United States wouldn’t do much to help them – despite being told repeatedly by Israeli leadership about the imminent Arab attack – and that if Israel loses the element of surprise, Israel may not win this war, since Arabs had learned some lessons in the 1948 confrontation. When the dust was settled, Israel once again emerged victorious while Arabs once again lost land to Israel. Believing that Arabs may now be more compelled to negotiate a peace deal, Israel offered the land back to Arab countries in exchange for peace. To the shock of Israelis, Arabs outright rejected and instead went on to pass the Khartoum resolution, famously known as the Three Nos of Khartoum: no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it. It made no sense, not because Arabs had lost two wars and ended up giving more land to Israel in both, but because even some sensible Arabs knew that another war with Israel would be a fool’s errand. And yet Arabs, in all their pomp and arrogance, once again went to war with Israel in 1973, which came to be known as the Yom Kippur war. The Arabs launched a surprise attack on Israel on the holiest day of the year for Jews – Yom Kippur, which is the day of the year when most observing Jews are busy in prayers while they’re fasting. Arabs had the element of surprise and they had motivation since they were determined to regain some of the territory which they had lost in previous wars. And yet Israel won again and when the war was over, the much touted Egyptian-Syrian-Jordanian alliance was in tatters. It was yet another stunning defeat for the Arabs. It was only after this humiliation did Egypt and Jordan realize that fighting Israel was useless and instead they must learn to coexist with Israel, which led to the Camp David Accords of 1978 and the 1994 Jordan-Israel peace treaty. Fast forward to 1987, when an IDF truck accidentally crashed into a civilian Palestinian vehicle in Gaza, which killed four Palestinians. It was the incident that resulted in the First Intifada, a senseless wave of violence by Palestinians which ended with the deaths of 1,962 Palestinians and 277 Israelis. Out of those 1,962 Palestinians, 359 were actually killed by other Palestinians. While many in the West and almost everyone in Muslim countries berate Israel for using “excessive force”, it would be a good idea to remember that Burmese military killed 3,000 Rohingya in 3 days – and this happened in 2017, in the age of WiFi and social media. That is what ethnic cleansing and genocide looks like. If Israel was killing Palestinians for a hobby, there would be no Palestinians today. Former Israeli PM (late) Golda Meir once famously said, “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.” That is still true today. After the first Intafada, Palestinians gained nothing on the ground and it was followed by Oslo Accords and Madrid Conference, both of which only brought temporary ease for both Arabs and Israelis. Fast forward to 2000, when Ariel Sharon made a visit to Temple Mount, a place holiest to Jewish people. That visit somehow provoked Palestinians to start the Second Intifada, which resulted in five more years of senseless violence until its end in 2005 when Palestinian and Israeli leaders agreed to call for end to violence. Some 3,000 Palestinians and around 1,000 Israelis, as well as 55 foreign citizens were dead when Second Intifada was officially over. Once again, Palestinians gained nothing on the ground from the violence. When Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, it expected some peace – if not appreciation – from Palestinians. But instead what it got was a barrage of rockets from Gaza, which quickly fell into Hamas’ hands after Israeli disengagement. In 2006, Palestinian terrorists kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and the result was Israel launching Operation Summer Rains which had two plain objectives: to stop the Hamas rockets from Gaza by dismantling its military infrastructure and to recover kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. Op Summer Rains was followed by its sister Operation Autumn Clouds. Israel failed to achieve its desired objectives in both operations but they were catastrophic for Palestinians, who lost over 500 lives in both ops combined. Gilad Shalit was released in 2011 as part of a peace deal. 2008-09’s three week long Operation Cast Lead by Israel in Gaza was also in response to nonstop rocket fire by Hamas targeting Israel. When it was over, Palestinians had lost around 1400 lives while Israelis lost only 13. Similarly, IDF’s Operation Pillar of Defense of 2012 and Operation Protective Edge of 2014 were both in response to nonstop rocket attacks from Gaza. Both of these operations also brought only more misery for Palestinians, who gained nothing on the ground and lost a lot of lives.

At this point many people will likely make the much over-repeated argument of balance of power, i.e, Israel should be criticized simply because it is the more powerful side in the conflict. This argument is based on the strawman that conflicts involving a nation and a militant group are or should always be balanced in power. The Western Coalition’s war against Islamic State in Iraq can be deemed a conflict that is unbalanced, where one side has all the military might while the other side largely relies on suicide bombers and IED attacks. Does that mean we should be criticizing the Coalition instead of Islamic State? Similarly, Pakistan’s military campaign against Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Waziristan wasn’t balanced; while the state of Pakistan was obviously the more powerful side with its own air force consisting of many F-16s and a strong navy, the TTP was a guerrilla militant group surviving in the mountains and equipped with machine guns and rocket launchers at best. Does that mean we should criticize the Pakistani military for using disproportionate force instead of criticizing the TTP for being a terrorist group? When a state is facing a non-state actor, the balance of power is almost always in the favor of the state. Same is the case with Israel’s conflicts with Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups. Another thing that works in Israel’s favor and against Palestinian terrorists is Israel’s wish to live and Palestinian terrorists’ wish to embrace ‘martyrdom’. I mean, let’s face it, there’s no reasoning with Jihadists who are bent on killing as many people as they can in suicide missions. Here the important point to note is that unlike many other countries, including the United States, Israel takes great pain to avoid civilian deaths in its conflicts. This is not because Israelis are some kind of angels – no they are not – but it is because since the spotlight is always on Israel, Israelis know that one small mistake will make them the point of derision for the rest of the world. Since the world holds Israel to different standards than everyone else, Israelis have – perhaps unknowingly – started putting themselves to different standards too. The result of that is Israel takes great caution in its military conflicts if only to escape the ire of the rest of the world, including its closest ally the United States. Of course, another obvious reason for that is Israel’s status as a democracy, while the Arab world is ruled by collapsing dictatorships or militant groups. Hamas, being a terrorist group, doesn’t have to worry about international law or the rules of warfare, but Israel does and it must continue to. Many Arab states who champion the Palestinian cause don’t give Palestinian refugees citizenship while Israeli Arabs enjoy full rights in Israel, a thriving democracy. There are Arab members in Israel’s Knesset where they are free to even condemn Israel but where are the Jews in Arab politics?

All the wars and battles fought between Arabs and Israel I have mentioned above failed to bring long-term peace. Almost all these wars were started by Arabs/Palestinians – less so in struggle for a Palestinian state and more so in their hatred of the Jews – and yet these wars have proved to be disastrous for Arabs/Palestinians. Sure, leaderships of some Arab states have realized that fighting Israel isn’t the answer but the hatred of the Jew remains a fundamental part of the Arab street and while there will be much less pampering of Palestinians by Arab states today, the fact is that Palestinian leaders – including those of Fatah – are still keen about taking Palestinians into another war with Israel. It is this perpetual conflict that has kept Palestinian leaders relevant, and they intend to stay relevant. Sure enough, Palestinian leaders have consistently turned down peace deals offered by Israel, including deals that offered part of Jerusalem to Palestinians.

What Palestinians forgot in their overconfidence was the cost of war. Who will pay the cost of war? Do Palestinians really think – in all honesty – that today they should be getting the same deal that was offered to them decades ago by Israel? Surely that is not only unfair to the victims of war on both sides but it is also simply not practical. Who is responsible for prolonging the conflict? Some will say Israel but a simple examination of historical facts – including those mentioned above – will prove that’s not the case. Indeed it is the Palestinians and their backers who are responsible for prolonging this conflict by refusing to make peace in hope of expelling Jews “from the river to the sea”. And because Palestinians are responsible for prolonging the conflict, they shall also pay the cost of the war. What exactly that cost is going to be will be decided between Israelis and Palestinians, but you can bet there will be a cost to pay in the end. If Palestinians were arrogant enough to stay in perpetual war with Israel, they must also be brave – and ready – to pay the cost of that war. Palestinian leaders can no longer be allowed by the international community to refuse peace to Palestinian and Israeli children.

Pakistan collaborating with China on Next-Gen fighter jet

In the inaugural session of AirTech ’17, a conference being held at Air University in Islamabad, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Chief of Air Staff (CAS) Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Sohail Aman stated that China is supporting Pakistan’s efforts to develop a next-generation fighter, a satellite program and a manned space mission.

“Pakistan is engaged with Chinese experts in manufacturing the next generation aircraft”, Aman told the audience, adding, “China is also providing technical assistance for launching the satellite programme.”

Under “Project Azm” the PAF is seeking to develop its own 5th-generation fighter. Besides having a system to support its future requirements, Project Azm is envisaged to steer Pakistan towards greater autonomy in domestically sourcing big-ticket defence systems and expanding Pakistan’s aviation industry.

Having formally launched Project Azm in July, ACM Aman provided additional details of the project, such as 60% of its workforce comprising of civilians and that “it will take five years to initiate the production” of the aircraft (Dawn News).

Under Project Azm, Pakistan Aeronautical Complex’s (PAC) Aviation Design Institute (AvDI) was tasked to develop a medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). ACM Aman outlined that the AvDI MALE UAV will also be produced in 18 months.

Reiterating upon his prior statements of building Pakistan’s domestic industry base and reducing its need for foreign suppliers, ACM Aman reportedly told the audience at AirTech ’17 that the PAF will source the bulk of its weapon systems from Pakistan by 2020.


Read full analysis at Quwa