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Is Mullah Mansoor’s Pakistani Passport an act of Deception or Collusion ?

Pakistani Passport found with the Afghani insurgent leader Mullah Mansoor.

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Screenshots of Mansoor's Pakistani Passport
A photo shows the Pakistani passport and ID card that Mullah Akhtar Mansoor was allegedly carrying. Mansoor was killed in a U.S. drone strike Saturday near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal recently responded to an inquiry from parliament’s upper house on how slain Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor was able to get a Pakistani passport.

Mansoor was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan’s Balochistan province in May 2016 when he was reportedly returning from a visit to neighboring Iran.

Both his Pakistani passport and ID card were recovered near his car, whichwas destroyed in the drone strike. Mansoor was using the alias Wali Muhammad to avoid being tracked by authorities.

Screenshots taken of his documents went viral on social media and raised questions in the local and international media as to how the Afghan insurgent leader managed to get a legitimate Pakistani passport.

Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan’s minister of planning and development speaks with Reuters in Islamabad, Pakistan, June 12, 2017.

Pakistan's Minister of Planning and development Ahsan Iqbal
Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan’s minister of planning and development speaks with Reuters in Islamabad, Pakistan, June 12, 2017.

Source of official passport

Critics at the time were arguing that there must have been people within the Pakistani establishment who helped Mansoor get the official document.

Pakistan Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal recently acknowledged in a letter to the country’s parliament that Mansoor was using a genuine Pakistani passport provided by the country’s National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), a government entity responsible for issuing identification documents to Pakistani citizens.

“NADRA has conducted a departmental inquiry to unearth involvement of its officials in the issuance of fake CNIC (Computerized National ID Card) to Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor with the name of Wali Muhammad s/o Shah Muhammad,” Iqbal wrote to the parliament.

The government said it dismissed at least three NADRA employees after an investigation established their involvement in issuing travel documents to the Afghan insurgent leader.

Pakistani local residents gather around a burning vehicle hit by a U.S. drone strike, May 21, 2016. Afghan Taliban Mullah Akhtar Mansoor was the target of the drone near Dalbandin, Baluchistan, Pakistan.

Mullah Mansoor's vehicle hit by a U.S. drone
Pakistani local residents gather around a burning vehicle hit by a U.S. drone strike, May 21, 2016. Afghan Taliban Mullah Akhtar Mansoor was the target of the drone near Dalbandin, Baluchistan, Pakistan.

Corruption

Some in Pakistan have likened Mansoor’s passport issue to an administrative glitch or a corruption case.

“Until and unless the government will take strong measurements against corruption and those involved in it, these incidents will remain unavoidable,” Hasan Askari Rizvi, a Lahore-based analyst, told VOA.

Farhat Ullah Babar, a prominent lawmaker and member of the Pakistan Peoples Party, cited the government’s incompetence in Mansoor getting a Pakistani passport.

Babar said the government’s response to parliament is inadequate.

“It is our absolute right to know about the loopholes that allowed a national security organization to issue Pakistani documents to a terror chief,” he told VOA.

“The nation needs to know what has been done to the culprits involved in this heinous crime. Let me tell you, nothing, absolutely nothing,” Babar said.

Some critics argue that NADRA follows a very strict verification procedure, and no one can be issued a fake national identity card without an insider’s help.

Taliban safe haven

Afghan officials said that Mansoor’s ability to get a Pakistani passport points to ties the insurgent group has with elements inside Pakistan’s military establishment.

Pakistani officials have rejected the Afghan government’s allegations and said Taliban neither have support nor safe havens inside Pakistan. They said Taliban control large swaths of areas inside Afghanistan and operate from there.

While Taliban do control certain districts in Afghanistan, according to a new report published by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), Kabul and Washington maintain Taliban leadership still enjoys safe havens in Pakistan.

Talking to VOA this week, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells reiterated U.S. calls for Pakistan to crack down on militants and avoid selective actions against militants in the country.

“We would like to see the same commitment that Pakistan brought in 2014 to the fight against Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan; that same strategic commitment to the other militant proxy groups who take advantage of Pakistan territory,” Wells told VOA.

U.S. Army General John Nicholson, the U.S. commander of the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan, said Thursday that Pakistan has not changed its behaviors since August, when U.S. President Donald Trump announced his new U.S. strategy that called on Pakistan to do more to stop militant sanctuaries in the country.

“No, I haven’t seen any change yet in their [Pakistan] behavior,” Nicholson told reporters following a meeting of the NATO defense ministers in Brussels.

“They could put pressure on the enemy, but if they allow the enemy to regenerate and allow their safe havens in Pakistan, then we will have another tough year ahead of us,” Nicholson warned, while talking to VOA at the end of the NATO meeting in Brussels. (VOA)

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Even though Delhi is busy with Demonetisation upheaval, it is too slow in Coping with new Strategic Dynamic engulfing the Region!

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Indian money, Pixabay

New Delhi, January 1, 2017: While New Delhi is busy with the demonetisation upheaval, it may find itself paces too slow in coping with the new strategic dynamic engulfing the region.

Neither Kabul nor New Delhi can be sanguine about the high-level meeting in Moscow on Afghanistan to which China and Pakistan were invited. This follows Moscow’s declaration that it does not consider Taliban as the enemy. In fact, Afghan Taliban can be allies against Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

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A piqued Ahmad Shekib Mostaghni, spokesman for the Afghan Foreign Ministry, said “even if such talks are organised with goodwill, they cannot yield substantial results because there is no one from the Afghan side to brief the participants about the latest ground realities”.

New Delhi, preoccupied otherwise, has not reacted to the Moscow meet. Apparently, the Russians took the Indian Foreign Office into confidence that “it was only about the internal situation in Afghanistan”. Russians are concerned about the rise of the Islamic State in Afghanistan, a diplomatic source said.

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Does New Delhi accept Moscow’s anxieties about ISIS in Afghanistan? And does it go along with Moscow and Beijing’s evaluation that Taliban are possible allies against the more infectious ISIS? But Washington has invested blood and treasure fighting the Taliban for 14 years. Is New Delhi at a trijunction?

In diplomacy, friendly gestures come with disguised ambiguity. With the Trump Presidency, a new chapter may be opening in US-Moscow relations. In preparation for this phase, Moscow would like to retain some pressure points to determine the pace of new equations. Kabul may be one such pressure point.

Should Trump turn upon Tehran over the nuclear deal, there is something in the Afghan cauldron for Iran to stir too.

So, the New Year begins with many new events to juggle with. Of the scattered scratches on my mind that 2016 leaves behind, the deepest one was etched in New York. At my friend’s DUMBO loft in Brooklyn on the night of November 8, an assortment of friends from every walk of life, left champagne bottles uncorked because the ground from under their feet moved when Hillary Clinton lost.

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If you make Bernie Sanders impossible, I said then, you make Trump inevitable.

American exceptionalism notwithstanding, the popular mood globally across liberal democracies was the same — a disgust with establishments foisted on them by globalisation and crony capitalism.

The assault on the establishment has come from the Left as well as the Right. Establishments, like the skilled matador, have deflected the people to the Right. This is their preferred fallback position. Hence, No to Bernie Sanders. Yes, to Trump. And now they are beating their breasts!

Well, let it be recorded, the American establishment did try to write itself into the script too. Clinton, after all, was nothing if not the establishment. Yes, people think I am untrustworthy. Yes, they think I am dishonest. Yes, I goofed in Benghazi… but still vote for me because Russians have hacked into my email. Bill Clinton went one better. Did I not tell you, he said to an interviewer, that Boris Yeltsin was a much better President than Putin.

Who knows the new Trump team from Forbes Who’s Who may reassert an old motto: the Business of America is Business. This encourages one to conclude that Trump would like to restore America as the land of unvarnished capitalism minus the hegemonic distortions, one which has made the US the world’s most hated nation even in influential enclaves of Europe.

Whatever else Trump may achieve, will he ever succeed in weaning away the Occupy Wall Street youth Bernie Sanders had mobilised? If not, he will begin to look like a semi finalist until the next elections in 2020.

Establishments may be able to channelise popular preference away from the Left, once or twice, but they cannot make a habit of it.

Ultimately, all speculations will be tempered by a Realpolitik, like the one opening up to India’s north. Counter-moves will come as soon as Trump finds his feet in the White House. As he surveys the scene from the Oval office, he will notice a new bounce in the Russian tread in Islamabad, Beijing, Damascus, Ankara, Manila, Kuala Lampur.

To be counted among Putin’s possible friends could well be French Presidential candidate, Francois Fillon, who defeated Nicolas Sarkozy in recent Republican party elections. Trump has already held out his hand to Putin. How firmly will he clasp it? And will the clasp last over Afghanistan too? Will New Delhi have respite from the unfolding demonetisation drama to attend to all of this? (IANS)

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Innocent Civilians suffer the most in Lethal Combat against the Taliban

As many as 3,500 civilian deaths were recorded in 2015, with one in four deaths being those of a child.

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  • Taliban promises to avenge former leader Mullah Mansour’s death
  • Innocent civilians caught in a crossfire between Taliban and the Afghan Government
  • Security experts say there is no hope of peace in the distant future

Mullah Mansour, former leader of the Taliban, was killed in US drones strikes last week in Pakistan, a year after he assumed the leadership role. The terrorist organization has promised to avenge its leader’s death in the most violent ways possible, a development greatly regretted by the civilians of Afghanistan.

Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour
Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour

Ever since September 2015, Taliban had been performing increasingly lethal attacks against the Afghan Government, ruthlessly destroying the settlements of civilians along the way. Families have been carelessly torn apart with no one to sympathize with their pain and sorrow. The battle of Kunduz, which commenced in April 2015 in an effort by the Taliban forces to take control of the city, assumed a more savage form with the onset of the Mansour leadership.

With each execution of leaders and appointment of new ones, life becomes harder for the average citizen in Afghanistan. These poor civilians, who are not concerned with either the Taliban or the Afghan government, helplessly suffer the worst forms of inhumanity. Rape, molestations, murders and kidnappings are some of the basic mistreatments hurled at these poor souls through the course of this long and everlasting war. TOLO News, Afghanistan’s first 24-hour broadcasting service, after its report on the ill doings of the Taliban, received multiple threats from the organization, which claimed the report to be false.

Mohammed Ali Mohammadi, who worked for Kaboora, a production company affiliated with TOLO News, was killed by Taliban suicide bombings in January, leaving behind his wife and two children to fend for themselves in these troubled times. Similarly, another innocent civilian, Saifullah was killed in a massive car bomb attack in Kabul last month, with his father, wife and five children mourning his death.

These stories are just a couple among thousand others, and yet, even through these times of turmoil, security experts and sources close to Taliban have disclosed that peace cannot be expected in the near future. A UN report from February illustrates the fact that more than 3,500 civilians were killed in 2015, and an appalling one in four deaths were that of a child’s, a big rise as compared to last year’s records, making this the highest number of deaths noted.

The appointment of a new leader brings little hope for an end to this widespread bloodshed. Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada is believed to be a tough military hardliner who has no intentions of ceasefire and will only fuel this warfare further. Although Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, on behalf of the afghan government, has issued an ultimatum to the new leader, to lay down arms and resume normal life, or face the same fate as Mullah Mansoor, analysts believe it won’t be of any help, as it calls for an immediate surrender instead of negotiation and peace talks, something that the terrorist organization will not digest.

Written by Saurabh Bodas.

Saurabh studies Mechatronics Engineering at Manipal Institute of Technology.

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Taliban Confirms Mullah Mansoor’s Death, makes Maulvi Haibatullah Akhundzada the new Chief

The Taliban announcement coincided with a suicide blast in Kabul that killed at least ten people.

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Pakistani local residents gather around a burning vehicle hit by a U.S. drone strike, May 21, 2016. Afghan Taliban Mullah Akhtar Mansoor was the target of the drone near Dalbandin, Baluchistan, Pakistan. Image source: AFP

Maulvi Haibatullah Akhundzada has been appointed the new chief of the group following the death of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, says the Taliban in Afghanistan.

On Wednesday, a Pashto language statement was issued where the Taliban formally confirmed that Mansoor was killed in a U.S. drone attack last week.

“Maulvi Haibatullah Akhundzada has been appointed as the new leader of the Islamic Emirate (Taliban) after a unanimous agreement in the shura (the supreme council), and all the members of shura pledged allegiance to him,” said the Taliban statement.

FILE - Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, leader of the Afghan Taliban, is seen in this undated handout photo from the Taliban. Credit:VOA
FILE – Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, leader of the Afghan Taliban, is seen in this undated handout photo from the Taliban. Credit:VOA

Mansoor was eliminated because he was blocking Afghan peace and reconciliation efforts, confirmed U.S. President Barack Obama confirmed on Monday.

Maulvi was a deputy to Mansoor along with Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the notorious Haqqani network and now he is the new Taliban Chief.

While Haqqani has retained his position, the son of the group’s founder- Mullah Yaqoob has been appointed as a second deputy to the new Taliban leader.

Time will say whether it is a coincident or not, but the Taliban announcement coincided with a suicide blast in Kabul that killed at least ten people. The early morning attack apparently targeted a vehicle carrying Afghan judiciary staff, officials said.  There are no immediate claims of responsibility. (VOA)

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