Trump Declares an End to America?s Role as the Global ‘Policeman’

Published on: 27/12/2018 | Comments: No comments 

?.. by?AFP
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump greet members of the US military during a stop at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. PHOTO: AFP

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump greet members of the US military during a stop at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. PHOTO: AFP

AL-ASAD AIR-BASE, IRAQ: President Donald Trump used a lightning visit to Iraq ? his first with US troops in a conflict zone since being elected ? to defend the withdrawal from Syria and to declare an end to America?s role as the global ?policeman.?

Trump landed at 7:16 pm local time at Al-Asad Air Base in western Iraq, accompanied by his wife Melania, following what he described as a stressful, secrecy shrouded flight on a ?pitch black? Air Force One.
The president spoke to a group of about 100 mostly special forces personnel and separately with military leaders before leaving a few hours later. A planned meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi was scrapped and replaced by a phone call, the premier?s office said.

During the call, Trump invited Abdel Mahdi to visit Washington and he accepted, White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said.
White House video showed a smiling Trump shaking hands with camouflage-clad personnel, signing autographs and posing for photos at the base in Iraq.

Morale-boosting presidential visits to US troops in war zones have been a longstanding tradition in the years following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

US President Donald Trump signs a hat as First Lady Melania Trump looks on as they greet members of the US military during an unannounced trip to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq. PHOTO: AFP

US President Donald Trump signs a hat as First Lady Melania Trump looks on as they greet members of the US military during an unannounced trip to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq. PHOTO: AFP

Trump has taken considerable criticism for declining to visit in the first two years of his presidency. But speculation had been mounting that he would finally make the gesture following his controversial plan to slash troop levels in Afghanistan and his order to withdraw entirely from Syria.

At the Iraqi military base, Trump sought to defend his ?America First? policy of pulling back from multinational alliances, including what to many Americans seem like the endless wars of the Middle East.
?It?s not fair when the burden is all on us,? he said. ?We don?t want to be taken advantage of any more by countries that use us and use our incredible military to protect them. They don?t pay for it and they?re going to have to.?

?We are spread out all over the world. We are in countries most people haven?t even heard about. Frankly, it?s ridiculous,? he added.
Trump told reporters he had overruled generals asking to extend the Syria deployment, where about 2,000 US forces, joined by other foreign troops, assist local fighters battling the Islamic State militant group.

?You can?t have any more time. You?ve had enough time,? he said he told the top brass.

The drawdowns ? and the abrupt way that they were announced ? helped lead to the resignation of Trump?s defense secretary, Jim Mattis, who has been one of the administration?s heavyweights.

In his typically forcefully-worded resignation letter, Mattis appeared to chide Trump when he stressed his own ?strongly held? views on ?treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors.?

Trump has also taken criticism from France and other foreign partners as well as senior figures in his own Republican party.

However, the president has made disentangling America from its wars a priority since his 2016 election and he said in Iraq that the US would no longer be treated as ?suckers,??CNN?reported.

Members of the US military cheer as US President Donald Trump arrives to speak during an unannounced trip to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq. PHOTO: AFP

Members of the US military cheer as US President Donald Trump arrives to speak during an unannounced trip to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq. PHOTO: AFP

The Islamic State group, which once controlled swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria, has been driven mostly into hiding.

On Wednesday, Trump said ?we?ve knocked them out,? although he appeared to hedge his bets ? following widespread criticism that his victory declaration is premature ? when he added that Iraq might be used as a future base ?if we wanted to do something in Syria.?

And while highlighting the military and financial roles he said Turkey and Saudi Arabia had agreed to play in Syria, Trump also told journalists that ?we may go back and help.?

In Afghanistan, Trump wants to withdraw about half of the 14,000 soldiers locked in a war against Taliban guerrillas that has long resembled a stalemate.

The Iraq trip will go some way to ending criticism over Trump?s failure to meet soldiers on the ground, even as he repeatedly touts his support for the military at campaign rallies.

And it provides some distraction from a rising tide of domestic political problems, including the government shutdown caused by Trump?s row with Congress over funding for a US-Mexico border wall.
Pressure is also mounting from a series of criminal probes into Trump?s finances and links to Russia.

According to Trump, the flight into Iraq was unlike anything he?d previously experienced.
?If you would have seen what we had to go through in the darkened plane with all windows closed with no light anywhere ? pitch black,? he said.

?I?ve been on many airplanes. All types and shapes and sizes.?
?So did I have a concern? Yes I had a concern.?

After departing Iraq, Trump stopped over at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where he and Melania shook hands and greeted some of the hundreds of troops gathered in a hangar.

The president and his entourage then headed back to the United States.

.. Source

Cannabis goes global while the US falls behind

Published on: 19/11/2018 | Comments: No comments 

Chitrali marijuana being sold openly in New York!

Published on: 13/10/2018 | Comments: No comments 

Chitral: Call it what you may, but Chitrali brand Marijuana is available in New York where the use of pot is legal subject to certain conditions. A Chitrali Muhammad Farid living in the US says a friend of his sent this picture to him which he has posted on Facebook.

It may be pointed out that Chitral grown cannabis has been world renowned since the days of the hippies in the late sixties and early seventies where the Chitral stuff known as ‘Chitral white’ was a treasured item in the underground markets of Amsterdam and elsewhere. Now after legalising Marijuana in the United States Chitral can earn good foreign exchange by legally exporting the treasured ‘high’ to countries where it is legal now. .. CN report, 13 Oct 2018

Environmental threats in Chitral and Us

Published on: 21/04/2018 | Comments: 2 comments 

.. By Shah Karez)

Chitral is the largest district of Khyber Pakhtunkhaw with an area of 14800 square kilometer. The IUCN satellite images of Chitral taken in 2001 give the following picture of the area coverage of Chitral district:

Unfortunately latest figures on the above cited vital information is not available.

According to estimates of AKRSP in early 1980?s less than 1% of the total area was estimated to be under agriculture. To meet some part of the shortfall in cereal crop production, several efforts by the NGOs and the irrigation department were made during this period. These efforts contributed to further increase the cultivated area. There have been traditional efforts to turn any piece of land that could be irrigated, into agricultural land thus making the already fragile land vulnerable to slides, erosion and other kinds of land degradation. A sound environment needs at least 25% forest coverage.? Our forest coverage is abysmally low. Rangeland covers the major part but highly overused and trampled.

The 4.7% forest cover that existed in the southern part of the district at the turn of the century, must have been reduced further.

Some studies done in the past reveal that 100% rural and 94% urban dwellers are totally dependent on fuel-wood to meet their energy requirements. In upper Chitral, there is acute shortage of fuel-wood and the dependency on the southern forest is increasing with each passing day. The northern part of Chitral, that used to have juniper coverage, has now been turned into naked mountains and the plantation on the margins of agricultural land is now being ruthlessly cut for fuel-wood.

This situation is not only threatening for the precious traditional fruit trees, the poor people and herders uproot the non-wood bushes such as Artemisia and other numerous herbs to meet their immediate energy needs. The peat bogs are drying up in Broghil and other areas by excessive use for cooking and space heating. The overgrazing and trampling of the denuded land is causing serious soil erosion and scouring. In the southern part the remaining fuel-wood stock will soon be gone.

The global effects of the climate change is already being witnessed in Chitral more than other parts of the country. Rains and snowfall have become scanty and untimely and more aggressive when it pours. Temperatures are on the rise. Over melting of glaciers and resulting floods are seen with increased frequency and devastating effects on life and property. To name a few,?the beautiful villages of? Brep, Sonoghur, Buni, Muzhgol, Saht, Reshun, and many more have been devastated by the glacial melts occurring between 2005 to 2015 whereas 18000 houses were declared fully damaged by the government estimates during the earthquake in October 2015. These are staggering numbers to worry about.




Flood devastation in 2015

Threats to our environment do not stop there. The population of Chitral is increasing at an alarming pace. The census carried out in 2017 records 2.32% growth per annum. It has quadrupled during the last half a century. The carrying capacity of the newly emerging townships in Drosh, Chitiral and Buni is too thin. Since Chitral is sitting on the fault line and already categorized as ?Zone 4?, which is the most dangerous earthquake area. Most of the rural dwelling houses are adobe structures that cannot sustain the looming threats of jolts.

To add to this there are no effective rules to manage town planning and land use planning to guide and direct the course of actions.

Agricultural land is being used for construction and other non-agricultural activities causing land fragmentation, which in turn only adds to environmental degradation.

There is no proper system of solid and liquid waste disposal. The affluent from the service stations, butcher houses and poultry markets find their way into Chitral River. Polythene bags are flying over our houses with the wind and fall into where they find their way.

The affluent from Marble cuttings contains lead, which gets mixed with water and goes down the river. Clean drinking water is becoming scarce not only for the local inhabitants but we send this polluted gift to every human being living downstream. The people using the river water, mostly poor, become directly affected by the ailments associated with unsafe water.

These are all planning related aspects to be considered by our planners.

Unfortunately people only wait and see what the concerned authorities do to stop the destruction. The DDMA and the PDMA usually remain short of funds or the skills. The public representatives only appear at the scene when floods have already played havoc, their job is to blame the concerned departments for their shortcomings.

This situation calls for emergency planning to save the land and the people of Chitral from the impending danger of destruction.

The nature of the problem is such that it can?t be controlled single handedly by any agency, it calls for collective action in that all the stakeholders must take part and be prepared to play their respective roles effectively.

The following are some indicative suggestions:

Alternative sources of energy must be promoted such as establishing LPG filling stations at different locations to provide energy source on affordable and sustainable basis.

At the same time the ruthless cutting of the available timber wood must be stopped forthwith to save the remaining timber forest from further degradation. The local inhabitants applying for timber permit should be given license for the removal of windfall trees only with strict ban on cutting of standing trees. Export of timber must be banned. The tree tsunami of KP government must be continued with extra care for the survival of maximum trees.

This is high time that the district government allocates maximum budget to generate hydro-power in the locations where feasible. The NGOs working in Chitral need to join hands in this endeavor.

The NGOs need to direct their collective efforts on environmental awareness raising campaigns in schools and environmental walks in all the hub centers. This has become all the more necessary in the wake of the opening of Lowari Tunnel that carries huge environmental challenges.

FOCUS humanitarian assistance program is doing commendable job for preparing communities to deal with disaster events. We also need to learn lessons from the experiment of Sind Government where the Union Council Based Public Private Partnership model has been effective in poverty reduction in Shikarpur, Kashmore, Jacobabad and Tharparkar districts.

The University of Chitral will do well by teaching Environment and Bio Physics including affiliation with the University of Central Asia to benefit from mutual experience and knowledge sharing of the dynamics of mountain societies for sustainable development.

We are living near the roof of the world and from here we should be nice enough to care for our fellow beings living below the line. This is a call to human reason and intellect to wake up and behave in a responsible manner. The cost of caring for the earth may not be too big, if those in the corridors of power confront the environmental threats by diverting the financial resources available for development with sense and sensibility.

Our representatives in the district, provincial and national assemblies should now use their mandate and resources in the right direction. These representatives will do well by preparing a master plan with mutual consensus to be followed in letter and spirit.

For ready reference a nice piece of conceptual and academic work has already been done with support of the IUCN titled as ?Chitral-Integrated Development Vision? (IDV), this document has comprehensive coverage of problems and contains suggested strategy to be adopted at every step. The IDV was prepared after wide consultations with the communities across Chitral. The document was finally approved in a Roundtable Conference attended by all stakeholders including the communities of Chitral. What happened to this document can be well explained by the incumbent District Nazim Mr. Maghfirat Shah who was a moving spirit behind the compilation and approval process during his first term. This document only needs to be taken out of the shelves and updated with fresh statistics where necessary and may be a few additions in view of the current scenario.

May I request the worthy Deputy Commissioner of Chitral to take it upon himself to read the ?Chitral-An Integrated Development Vision? copies of which can easily be had from Google search. This is a high time especially because the budget for 2018-19 is at the doorstep. .. Shah Karez,?Rural Development Practitioner, Chitral 21 April 2018

FATF blackmail and Pak-US ties

Published on: 09/03/2018 | Comments: 1 comment 

.. by Raza Muhammad Khan

DURING her recent visit to Pakistan, Lisa Curtis raised Washington?s concerns about gaps in Pakistan?s anti-terrorist financing controls and fund-raising by militants. This message was superfluous, as the US had already decided to punish Pakistan through the FATF, as part of its new ?strategy?, which posits that the US can win the Afghan war, by getting tough with Pakistan. This action has further infuriated most Pakistanis and added to the alienation of the US in Pakistan. Ms Curtis is known in South Asia for her bias in favour of India and her association with Hussain Haqqani, the former Pakistani Ambassador in the US, who now makes a living by demonising his own country. Though Haqqani is wanted by Pakistani courts for ?waging war against Pakistan? and ?hatching criminal conspiracy? against the State, he is now a Director at the Hudson Institute, which receives US government funding, among others.

Persistent hostile US actions against Pakistan at the FATF and elsewhere, could please the Afghan rulers, as they absolve them of their incompetence; or India, as they enable it to conceal its atrocities in Kashmir, but they are damaging the Pak-US relations beyond repair. During his latest testimony before the US Armed Services Committee, General Votel, Commander of the US Central Command, was candid to appreciate Pakistani actions to ?expand border control mechanisms and efforts to improve paramilitary security capabilities?. He acknowledged Pakistan?s sacrifices in the war against terrorism, maintained that Pakistan?s cooperation remained imperative for the success of the US policies and hinted at ?positive indicators from Pakistan??. While repeating some old allegations, he admitted that cross-border terrorist attacks between Pakistan and Afghanistan hinder both countries? abilities to coordinate on border security. He also termed the military-to-military relationship with Pakistan as valuable. While some of these statements indicate a better comprehension of the regional milieu by the US DoD, its actions are constrained by a fallacious and prejudiced strategy at the top, that is slowly but surely going to end the Pakistan-US partnership. When this happens, it will immensely benefit the terrorists on either side of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Going back to the FATF drama, it is important to trace its genesis. The LeT, which supported the Kashmir cause and the UN Resolution on Kashmir, were blamed by India for the terrorists attack on its Parliament in 2001 and thereafter the Mumbai bombing in 2008. The US named the LeT, as a terrorist organization in December 2001, pursuant to Executive Order 13224. In 2014, the US amended LeT?s designations to include Jama?at-ud-Dawa (JUD), a popular charity cum preaching foundation, as an alias organization of the LeT. US persons or entities can?t engage in any transactions with such persons and entities. Under UNSC Resolution 1267 of 2001 and 1822 of 2008, the UN listed Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, as a terrorist for his alleged association with LeT and Al-Qaeda in December 2008. Some details of these accusations, oddly termed as ?narrative?, have also been provided by the UN on its website, but these are not substantiated by any evidence.

Since 2012, the United States has offered a US $10 million? reward for information about Hafiz Saeed?s involvement in terrorism. Such information, if any, has not been shared with Pakistan. Pakistan banned the LeT in 2002, the JUD in 2005 and took over control of the Saeed?s other charity foundations on 14 Feb 2018. It must be noted that US law is not valid in Pakistan and Islamabad is only obliged to follow the UN Resolutions, under which arrest of Hafiz Saeed is not an obligation without any proven crime or evidence. Doing so will be a violation of Pakistani laws and human rights. Under UN Resolutions, Pakistan is required to freeze the financial assets of Hafiz Saeed, which it has done, though Hafiz Saeed has repeatedly denied his association with any terrorist?s attacks. Under US pressure, Pakistan has been detaining and placing Saeed under house arrest, off and on, under ?Maintenance of Public Order? as there are no charges against him in Pakistani courts. Pakistan has been requesting for credible evidence against Saeed from India since 2008, but New Delhi has failed to provide this, so far. Thus, any US and Indian concerns over the freedom of Pakistani court verdicts, to release Saeed due to absence of proof, are unwarranted and are a meddling in the internal matters of Pakistan.

Through these actions, the Indo-US nexus is openly using the UN, and now the FATF to tarnish Pakistani image, hurt its economy and dilute the Kashmiri?s struggle for self-determination, promised to them by the UN. The UN is mandated to address the root causes of terrorism and not its symptoms. It needs to implement its resolutions on Kashmir, shun its support to foreign occupations and censor violations of human rights in India. While doing so, it might designate Modi as a terrorist for ordering the killing of thousands of Indian Muslims, innocent Kashmiris and Pakistanis. The US is further embroiling itself in South Asian conflicts by siding with India and linking Kashmir with the events in Afghanistan, which is clearly reckless. Will any one in the Trump team has the mettle to admit this simple reality and make a course correction in its disastrous South Asia policy?

The change might include black listing India at the FATF for terror financing to sabotage the CPEC, abetting terrorism in Balochistan, FATA and Sindh, money laundering through MQM London and dissipating Pakistani efforts to manage its western borders. While Pakistan must strengthen its own banking and financial laws, as outlined in the NAP, it need not worry too much about the FATF, as it is neither a formal international organization, nor can it invite legal or penal proceedings. Like in the past, any future extortion through the FATF should strengthen our will and resilience to survive, besides making us more self-reliant.

? The writer, a retired Lt Gen, is former president of National Defence University, Islamabad.


United States, main cause of today’s world sorrows

Published on: 22/08/2016 | Comments: 2 comments 

Dear Sir,
The stories of miseries and sorrows we see spread around the world today have the finger prints of the United States writ large over them. Whether Iraq, Syria Libya, Sudan, Afghanistan, any where there has been ruthless destruction, America was there to ‘liberate’ that country of a dictator or see the ‘victory’ of religious forces.

What kind of country is this US? Why can’t it mind it’s own business? The soviet union was a good sentry to check the despotic designs of the US, but shrewd propaganda and religion manipulated tactics of the CIA caused it to capitulate eventually.  Ever since, increasing stories of American hegemonic aggression are being witnessed by the world day and night.

Over the years the US has become so bold that with dictates like “Either you are with us or you are against us” it has brought feeble countries like Pakistan on their knees within no time.

The Americans with their intelligence arm the CIA are experts in using religious sentiments to create unrest in the world and know well to exploit religious weaknesses of societies.

Is there a way that we can get to stop America causing misery to the world?  Is there a way to prevent all these unnecessary sponsored killings and devastation?

May be China and Russia can get together to cut the US down to size,  make it stay in it’s own shoes and spare the world ruthless destruction, from now on, at least. — Ehteram ul Haq, Chitral, 21 Aug 2016.