Author: Muhammad Shahbazfar Hafeez

BBA (hons), MBA finance working as editor at www.Encyclopk.com

Pakistan-Afghanistan Relations

Being a neighbor, Pakistan gives paramount importance to its relations with Afghanistan as Pakistan’s peace and stability depends on Afghan peace and stability. Traditionally, Pak-Afghan relationship has been characterized by mutual mistrust and lack of confidence and third parties have always been a decisive factor in determining the Pak-Afghan relations.

Starting from the history since Pakistan got the independence from British Rule in 1947, we have seen rise and fall in the relations between Af-Pak relations so now lets go through the history below :

History

Durand Line

According to an Article-Gartenstein_Ross-and-Vassefi the Afghanistan’s eastern border was settled in 1893. At the time, Britain had considerable strategic interests in the region because of its perceived need to protect the jewel in its colonial crown, British India. The amir of Afghanistan, Abdur Rahman, opposed Britain’s proposal for the Afghan-Indian border, which would force him to relinquish “his nominal sovereignty over the Pashtun tribes in the region” outside the border favored by the British. The strength of Abdur Rahman’s objection to splitting up the Pashtuns in this manner should not be understated. Historically, the idea of being “Afghan” was tied to being from the Pashtun ethnic group. As James Spain, a former cultural affairs officer at the American embassy in Karachi, has written, the Durand Line that demarcated the border between Afghanistan and British India left “half of a people intimately related by culture, history, and blood on either side.” Yet Abdur Rahman was forced to agree to this border by the threat of economic embargo. He relied on British subsidies to maintain his central government’s dominance, and was in particular need of it when the border was set because he was then engaged in warfare against the

Hazaras Afghanistan has never accepted the legitimacy of the Durand Line (although they should have after the creation of Pakistan), named after its architect, Sir Henry Mortimer Durand. However, the country had little recourse when faced with a global superpower like Britain. This changed with the creation of Pakistan. Afghanistan had long been recognized as an independent state by the time Pakistan was created in 1947 but geopolitical scenario shows Pakistan emerged as more powerful than Afghanistan as visionary state, but some people at that time thought  there was no particular reason to think that Pakistan was built to last. Pakistan’s lack of cohesion is signaled even by its name, as it is an acronym for the areas encompassed within the state: Punjab, North-West Frontier Province (Afghan Province), Kashmir, Sind, and Baluchistan. Additionally, Pakistan was born of a bloody partition with India—something that produced not only the two states, but also an arch-rivalry that persists to this day.

Just as many Indian leaders thought the new state of Pakistan might not survive, so too did Afghan politicians. Immediately after Pakistan emerged, Afghanistan put forward a demand for the creation of an independent “Pashtunistan,” meaning “land of the Pashtuns.” The idea was that Pakistan should allow the Pashtuns in the northwestern part of their country to—if they so chose—secede and become an independent state. Though the size of the envisioned Pashtunistan differed over time, Afghanistan’s proposals frequently encompassed about half of West Pakistan, including areas dominated by Baluch majorities. Though these demands were framed as supportive of Pashtun national independence, they were in fact irredentist. If Pashtunistan came to exist, it probably wouldn’t remain independent for long, as it would be a fragile and essentially defenseless state. The historical linkage between the Pashtuns and Afghanistan would likely dictate a merger of Pashtunistan into Afghanistan. And even if Pakistan never acceded to the Pashtunistan demand, Afghanistan had essentially staked its claim to that area if the Pakistani state were to fail. The incorporation of Pashtunistan and the majority Baluch areas into Afghanistan would, in turn, solve one of Afghanistan’s major strategic weaknesses—the fact that it’s a landlocked state. The Baluch majority areas would give Afghanistan access to the Arabian Sea. From a legal perspective, Afghanistan’s claim about the illegitimacy of its border with Pakistan was rather weak. Though Afghanistan claimed that the border had been drawn under duress, it had in fact confirmed the demarcation of this international frontier on multiple occasions, including in agreements concluded in 1905, 1919, 1921, and 1930.10 But the weakness of Afghanistan’s legal case took a backseat to the historical connection it felt to the Pashtun areas, and the strategic benefits it would derive from expanding its territory.

This brings us to the episodes in the history between Afghanistan and Pakistan that have so often been missing from contemporary discourse: not only do the two countries have a disputed border, but Afghanistan has rather aggressively pursued actions designed to expand its territory at Pakistan’s expense.

Afghanistan’s early incursions

Afghanistan’s Early Incursions into Pakistan Less than a decade after the birth of the new state of Pakistan, James Spain noted, “relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have come to be centered on one issue.”11 That single issue was Pashtunistan. It was Afghanistan rather than Pakistan that chose to make this border dispute, and the issue of Pashtunistan, so central to the two states’ relations. At the outset, Afghanistan was the only country to vote against Pakistan’s admission into the United Nations, justifying this vote with the argument that Pakistan’s northwest frontier “should not be recognized as a part of Pakistan until the Pashtuns of that area had been given the opportunity to opt out for independence.”12 Pakistan was admitted despite Afghanistan’s objections. But thereafter Kabul launched a series of low-level attacks against Pakistan, maintaining some degree of plausible deniability throughout (as Pakistan would later do when non-state actors that it sponsored struck at India, Afghanistan, US forces, and others).

George Montagno, who served as a visiting professor of American history at the University of Karachi, has noted that for years after Pakistan’s creation, Afghan agents operated within the Pashtun areas, “distributing large amounts of money, ammunition and even transistor radios in an effort to sway loyalties from Pakistan to Afghanistan.”13 Another of their obvious goals was to build support for an independent Pashtunistan. At the same time that Afghanistan worked to build support within Pakistan’s Pashtun areas, it also escalated its attacks into Pakistan proper. Pakistan claimed that on September 30, 1950, its northern border was attacked by Afghan tribesmen, as well as regular Afghan troops, who crossed into Pakistan 30 miles northeast of Chaman in Baluchistan.

It didn’t take long for Pakistan to repel this low-scale invasion, and the government of Pakistan announced that it had “driven invaders from Afghanistan back across the border after six days of fighting.” For its own part, Afghanistan claimed that it had no involvement in this attack(which we know there was huge support from afghanistan), which it said was comprised exclusively of Pashtun tribesmen agitating for an independent Pashtunistan. But given Afghanistan’s later use of irregular forces dressed as tribesmen, Pakistan’s claims that the aggression had emanated from Afghanistan’s government seem credible. Tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan rose markedly in 1955, when Pakistan announced that it was consolidating its control over its tribal areas.

In response, Afghan prime minister Mohammed Daoud Khan criticized Pakistan’s actions over the airwaves of Radio Kabul on March 29, 1955. Demonstrations that were reportedly inspired by the Afghan government flared up in Kabul, Kandahar, and Jalalabad. S.M.M. Qureshi of the University of Alberta noted that “Pakistan flags were pulled down and insulted and the [Pashtunistan] flag was hoisted on the chancery of the Pakistan Embassy in Kabul.”16 This incident caused the two countries to withdraw their ambassadors, and relations weren’t fully restored until 1957. The next crisis in Afghanistan-Pakistan relations came in 1960- 61. Khurshid Hasan, at the time a member of the department of international relations at the University of Karachi, recounts, “In 1960, fresh border clashes took place. Afghan irregulars and Army troops dressed as tribesmen were reported to have penetrated the Pakistan side of the Durand Line with the sanction of the Afghan Government. Two other raids took place in May and fall of 1961.”17 News reports from that period corroborate Hasan’s account.

In late September 1960, an Afghan lashkar (irregular forces) crossed into Pakistan’s Bajaur area. Pakistan’s government announced that the lashkar “clashed with loyal tribesmen and fled after suffering heavy casualties.”18 But Pakistan alleged that conventional Afghan military resources, including tanks, had also massed on the Afghan side of the border near Bajaur. What Afghanistan’s official news agency described as “a major battle” eventually broke out between the two sides.

Pakistan bombarded Afghan forces using its airpower; rather than escalating the conflict, this quelled hostilities, at least for the time being. The May 1961 clashes occurred in the area of the Khyber Pass. Pakistani president Muhammad Ayub Khan announced that regular Afghan forces had attacked Pakistani posts at the border. The Pakistani air force strafed Afghan positions in response.21 On May 22, Pakistani warplanes struck again, attempting to wipe out a base of raiding Afghan troops in Baganandail. With this aerial strafing, alongside police patrols, roadblocks, and even bombs going off, the New York Times noted in late May that “relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan appear to have reached a new low, and no relief is in sight.”23 Indeed, after the next skirmishes broke out in the fall of 1961, Afghanistan and Pakistan formally severed diplomatic relations.24 These broken relations had acute economic consequences for both countries, particularly for landlocked Afghanistan. The shah of Iran helped to mediate a détente between the two neighbors in 1963.

The resulting peace lasted about a decade, until Mohammed Daoud Khan (who served as Afghanistan’s prime minister during the 1955 crisis between the countries) deposed his cousin, King Mohammed Zahir Shah, on July 17, 1973. Daoud’s Legacy: A Rivalry Reignited Daoud was an ardent supporter of the Pashtunistan concept, and his passion for the matter produced the collapse of détente. He referred to the border dispute almost immediately upon assuming power, and the independent state for which he agitated included not only Pakistan’s majority Pashtun areas but also its majority Baluch areas.

Daoud’s regime provided sanctuary, arms, and ammunition to Pashtun and Baluch nationalist groups. Pakistan saw this as a significant challenge because its Baluch regions had been in “virtual revolt,” requiring the intervention of Pakistan’s military even before Daoud began to support Baluch separatism.25 Even as Daoud fomented ethnic insurgency inside Pakistan, his regime simultaneously condemned Pakistan before the United Nations for being “genocidal” in its treatment of ethnic minorities. This escalation came at a time when Pakistan had already lost nearly a third of its territory, as East Pakistan seceded in 1971 and became Bangladesh. Rizwan Hussain, a research scholar at The Australian National University, writes that Afghanistan’s actions “posed the greatest threat to Pakistan’s integrity since the secession of East Pakistan.”26

Obviously, this called for a response. Pakistani president Zulfikar Ali Bhutto—a secular reformist whose rule included several questionable decisions that unwittingly empowered Islamist factions 27—fashioned a two-part responsive strategy. One part was to suppress nationalist uprisings in Pakistan’s Frontier. A second part was a “forward policy” that supported violent Islamist factions inside Afghanistan. This was symmetrical with the manner in which Afghanistan had supported violent nationalist groups inside Pakistan. A.Z. Hilali, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Peshawar, notes that Bhutto’s government “found many Afghan Islamists who were useful as a counterweight to the pro-Indian and relatively pro-Soviet policies of Daoud’s government.”28 Afghan Islamists who received covert aid from Pakistan during this time included Gulbuddin Hikmatyar and Burhanuddin Rabbani, both of whom were destined to become important figures during the Afghan-Soviet war and beyond.29 (After the communist-leaning regime of Mohammad Najibullah collapsed in 1992, Hikmatyar became Afghanistan’s “prime minister,” and shelled the capital city held by “president” Rabbani on a daily basis.) There were strategic reasons behind Pakistan’s support for these Islamist factions. For one, Pakistan believed that groups whose primary identification was religious might be less likely to support ethno-nationalist demands of the kind that drove

Afghan policy toward Pakistan’s Pashtuns and Balochs. It also seems that Pakistan believed Islamist groups in Afghanistan were more likely to be hostile toward India. This calculation proved to be correct: The only time since Pakistan’s creation that Afghanistan has had warm relations with Pakistan while simultaneously being hostile to India was during the Taliban’s rule in the 1990s. Thus, Pakistan’s initial support for violent Islamist groups in Afghanistan was spurred directly by the Afghan government’s sponsorship of separatist groups in Pakistan under the Daoud regime, as well as aggressive Afghan actions that had preceded Daoud. Pakistan’s support for such groups would of course grow during the 1980s, which saw the Afghan-Soviet war grip the region, and also during the 1990s, when Pakistan supported the Taliban during Afghanistan’s civil war. Conclusion: Af-Pak History and Contemporary US Policy Overall, the factors driving Pakistan’s support for violent Islamist groups in Afghanistan represent a tangled web. There are, of course, strategic calculations behind Pakistan’s support for these groups—strategic calculations that began with Afghanistan’s escalating aggression against Pakistan, but also came to encompass the need for “strategic depth” in Pakistan’s rivalry with India. Personal relationships would develop between Pakistani officers and the non-state actors they supported.

There were also changes to Pakistan’s military culture, which—though the precise degree to which this occurred has been debated by scholars—clearly underwent some degree of “Islamization.” This process began under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto,30 but escalated markedly under Gen. Muhammad Zia ul Haq, who deposed Bhutto in a July 1977 military coup. Zia brought a number of changes to the Pakistani military after his coup. These included incorporating Islamic teachings (such as S.K. Malik’s The Qur’anic Concept of War) into military training, incorporating religious criteria into officers’ promotion requirements and exams, and requiring formal obedience to Islamic rules within the military. At the same time Zia implemented these policies, the demographics of the officer corps were shifting. The first generation of officers from the country’s generally secular social elites was replaced by new junior officers from Pakistan’s poorer northern districts. Pakistani journalist Zahid Hussain notes that “the spirit of liberalism, common in the ‘old’ army, was practically unknown to them. They were products of a social class that, by its very nature, was conservative and easily influenced by Islamic fundamentalism.”31 So the potent mix of motivations impelling Pakistan’s support for Islamist groups in Afghanistan included strategic calculations, personal relationships, and changes to the organizational culture of Pakistan’s military. This mix of motivations was underestimated by American planners in the early stages of the US war in Afghanistan. Following US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage’s now-infamous post-9/11 threat to bomb Pakistan “back to the Stone Age” if it didn’t reorient itself away from the Taliban,32 Musharraf executed the about-face to which we referred at the beginning of this article, announcing that Pakistani groups would not be allowed to engage in terrorism. We noted that the announced changes did not hold up. The reason lies in the fact that, as Zahid Hussain has written, “Musharraf’s decision to forge a partnership with America meant taking Pakistan to war with itself.” 33 Indeed, one of the biggest problems lies in the fact that American planners didn’t realize the utter likelihood of this failure. The mistaken belief that Pakistan’s turn away from supporting stateless Islamist militants in 2001–02 might be permanent helped to seriously retard the US’s development of a coherent policy dealing with the many problems emanating from Pakistan. But the legacy of this forgotten period in Afghanistan-Pakistan relations—the period of Afghan aggression against Pakistan over the Pashtunistan issue—continues to be relevant today. Put simply, some issues will resonate more deeply with Pakistan than Americans believe. Bellicose Afghan statements following major attacks in their country may be justified, but these statements may also strike a chord that reminds Pakistanis of days when they were neither the stronger of the two neighbors, nor the more aggressive one.

Further, when the United States pursues cross-border tribal unity to try to stabilize Afghanistan—as it has done, for example, in Nangarhar province—it may trigger concerns on the Pakistani side about a possible Pashtun uprising. This forgotten history, and the tangled web of motivations that it helped produce, makes clear how truly difficult a simple-sounding proposition like “change Pakistan’s strategic orientation” can be. None of this is meant to forgive the pernicious role that Pakistan currently plays within Afghanistan. But one clear problem of the past decade has been a failure to appreciate Pakistani strategic calculations. Fully comprehending the period in the relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan outlined in this article may be an important part of forging more appropriate policies moving forward.

 

Y – Charles Faint served as Lead Editor for this article.

References

1 Richard Weitz, “How Pakistan Kids Itself on China,” The Diplomat, Dec. 28, 2011.

2 Elisabeth Bumiller & Jane Perlez, “Pakistan’s Spy Agency is Tied to Attack on U.S. Embassy,” New York Times, Sept. 22, 2011.

3 Paul Tighe & Haris Anwar, “Obama Says Pakistan Has ‘Unsavory’ Contacts to Hedge Bets in Afghanistan,” Bloomberg, Oct. 6, 2011.

4 Mark Mazzetti & Eric Schmitt, “CIA Outlines Pakistan Links with Militants,” New York Times, July 30, 2008.

5 See Nick Schifrin, “WikiLeaks Data Seem to Show Pakistan Helped Attack American Troops,” ABC News, July 26, 2010 (elaborating on internal US assessments, as revealed by WikiLeaks documents); Matt Waldman, The Sun in the Sky: The Relationship between Pakistan’s ISI and Afghan Insurgents, London School of Economics, Crisis States Research Centre, Discussion Paper 18, June 2010.

6 Zahid Hussain, Frontline Pakistan: The Struggle with Militant Islam (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), p. 51.

7 Thomas Barfield, Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010), p. 154.

8 James W. Spain, “Pakistan’s North West Frontier,” Middle East Journal 8(1), 1954, p. 30.

9 Husain Haqqani, Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2005), p.10.

10 Khurshid Hasan, “Pakistan-Afghanistan Relations,” Asian Survey 2(7), 1962, p. 15. 11 Spain, “Pakistan’s North West Frontier,” p. 35.

12 Hasan, “Pakistan-Afghanistan Relations,” p. 16.

13 George L. Montagno, “The Pak-Afghan Détente,” Asian Survey 3(12), 1963, p. 620.

14 “Pakistan Says Afghans Launch War,” Associated Press, Oct. 4, 1950.

15 “Invaders Out, Pakistan Says,” Associated Press, Oct. 5, 1950.

16 S.M.M. Qureshi, “Pakhtunistan: The Frontier Dispute between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Pacific Affairs 39(1/2), 1966, p. 105.

17 Hasan, “Pakistan-Afghanistan Relations,” p. 16.

18 “Pakistan Fears Afghan Invasion,” Reuters, Sept. 23, 1960.

19 “Incursion by Afghans ‘Beaten Back,’ Says Pakistan,” Guardian (London), Sept. 29, 1960.

20 “Afghans Report Pakistani Clash,” Reuters, Oct. 8, 1960.

21 “Regular Afghan Army Battles Pakistanis in Khyber Pass Area,” Associated Press, May 21, 1961.

22 “Pakistan Planes Again Strafe Afghan Base,” Associated Press, May 23, 1961.

23 Paul Grimes, “Afghan-Pakistan Border Tense as Dispute on Tribe Worsens,” New York Times, May 29, 1961.

24 “Afghanistan Breaks with Pakistan,” Reuters, Sept. 6, 1961.

25 Rizwan Hussain, Pakistan and the Emergence of Islamic Militancy in Afghanistan (Hampshire, UK: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2005), p. 78.

26 Ibid. 27 One example is Bhutto’s policy toward Pakistan’s Ahmadis. See Hassan Abbas, Pakistan’s Drift into Extremism: Allah, the Army, and America’s War on Terror (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2005), pp. 81-82.

28 A.Z. Hilali, U.S.-Pakistan Relationship: Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan (Hampshire, UK: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2005), p. 104.

29 Hafizullah Emadi, “Durand Line and Afghan-Pak Relations,” Economic and Political Weekly, July 14, 1990.

30 Stephen P. Cohen, interview with Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Nov. 24, 2008.

31 Hussain, Frontline Pakistan, p. 20.

32 Pervez Musharraf, In the Line of Fire: A Memoir (New York: Free Press, 2006), p. 201.

33 Hussain, Frontline Pakistan, p. viii.

 

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Kim Jong-un oversees display of N Korea military force

New long-range ballistic missiles on show during massive parade celebrating country’s founder as US armada approaches.

North Korea on Saturday displayed what appeared to be new long-range and submarine-based missiles at a massive military parade celebrating the 105th birth anniversary of the nation’s founding president, Kim Il-sung.

The parade, attended by leader Kim Jong-un, saw thousands of soldiers marching through the capital, Pyongyang.

North Korea blames US ‘aggression’ amid tension

Weapons analysts said they believed some of the missiles on display were new types of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), enclosed in canister launchers mounted on the back of trucks.

North Korea’s Pukkuksong submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) were also on parade. It was the first time North Korea had shown the missiles, which have a range of more than 1,000km, at a military parade.

As a nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier group steamed towards the Korean Peninsula, a top North Korean official issued a warning against the United States during the ceremony.

Choe Ryong Hae – widely seen by analysts as North Korea’s second most important official – said US President Donald Trump was guilty of “creating a war situation” by dispatching US forces to the region.

“We will respond to an all-out war with an all-out war and a nuclear war with our style of a nuclear attack,” said Choe.

Al Jazeera’s Nassir Abdulhaq, reporting live from the parade in Pyongyang, said that while it is usual for people in North Korea to mark this anniversary, the scale of this year’s event and the defiance of North Korea’s rhetoric was striking.

“It’s clear that North Korea wants to flex its military muscles amid the recent threats from the deployment of US warships towards the Korean peninsula,” said Abdulhaq.

North Korean soldiers march and shout slogans during the military parade in Pyongyang [Damir Sagolj/Reuters]

State television showed Kim, wearing a black suit and white shirt, stepping out of a black limousine and saluting his honour guard before walking down a red carpet.

He then walked up to a podium and clapped with senior government officials to address the thousands of soldiers and a massive crowd taking part in the parade.

North Korea showcases new missiles at military parade

Kim Jong-un oversees display of N Korea military force

New long-range ballistic missiles on show during massive parade celebrating country’s founder as US armada approaches.

North Korea on Saturday displayed what appeared to be new long-range and submarine-based missiles at a massive military parade celebrating the 105th birth anniversary of the nation’s founding president, Kim Il-sung.

The parade, attended by leader Kim Jong-un, saw thousands of soldiers marching through the capital, Pyongyang.

North Korea blames US ‘aggression’ amid tension

Weapons analysts said they believed some of the missiles on display were new types of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), enclosed in canister launchers mounted on the back of trucks.

North Korea’s Pukkuksong submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) were also on parade. It was the first time North Korea had shown the missiles, which have a range of more than 1,000km, at a military parade.

As a nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier group steamed towards the Korean Peninsula, a top North Korean official issued a warning against the United States during the ceremony.

Choe Ryong Hae – widely seen by analysts as North Korea’s second most important official – said US President Donald Trump was guilty of “creating a war situation” by dispatching US forces to the region.

“We will respond to an all-out war with an all-out war and a nuclear war with our style of a nuclear attack,” said Choe.

Al Jazeera’s Nassir Abdulhaq, reporting live from the parade in Pyongyang, said that while it is usual for people in North Korea to mark this anniversary, the scale of this year’s event and the defiance of North Korea’s rhetoric was striking.

“It’s clear that North Korea wants to flex its military muscles amid the recent threats from the deployment of US warships towards the Korean peninsula,” said Abdulhaq.

North Korean soldiers march and shout slogans during the military parade in Pyongyang [Damir Sagolj/Reuters]

State television showed Kim, wearing a black suit and white shirt, stepping out of a black limousine and saluting his honour guard before walking down a red carpet.

He then walked up to a podium and clapped with senior government officials to address the thousands of soldiers and a massive crowd taking part in the parade.

The display suggested that Pyongyang was working towards a “new concept” of ICBM, Melissa Hanham, a senior research associate at the US-based Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California, told the Reuters news agency.

“However, North Korea has a habit of showing off new concepts in parades before they ever test or launch them,” Hanham said. “It is still early days for these missile designs”.

Joshua Pollack, editor of the Washington-based Nonproliferation Review, told Reuters that the display indicates North Korea is progressing with its plan to base missiles on submarines, which are hard to detect.

“It suggests a commitment to this programme,” said Pollack. “Multiple SLBMs seems like a declaration of intent to advance the programme”.

Al Jazeera’s Craig Leeson, reporting from Seoul, in the South, said Kim Il-sung’s birthday, also known as the Day of the Sun, is a day for celebration in North Korea, but also a day for analysts to observe the military parade.

“What we’ve seen already is that it’s a very large parade. We had expected it would possibly be the largest that they’ve held,” our correspondent said.

North Korea’s Ballistic Missiles [Al Jazeera]

He said analysts are noting who is standing beside Kim Jong-un – on his right, the country’s second-highest ranking official, who heads the military, and on his left, the country’s premier.

“What analysts believe is that this is sending a message that Kim Jong-un maintains his dual track policy,” Leeson said.

“That is the military deterrent and developing that military deterrent. And on his left, the economic policy, bringing North Korea into the modern world. That includes the business world, engaging China, its biggest trading partner, and maintaining its strength on the peninsula.”

‘Military hysteria’

In his annual New Year’s address, Kim said that the country’s preparations for an inter-continental ballistic missile launch have “reached the final stage”. Analysts say commercial satellite images from recent weeks indicate increased activity around North Korea’s nuclear test site.

North Korea warned the US to end its “military hysteria” earlier on Saturday or face retaliation as the US Navy deployed in the region

North Korea warns US over aircraft carrier deployment

“All the brigandish provocative moves of the US in the political, economic and military fields pursuant to its hostile policy toward the DPRK will thoroughly be foiled through the toughest counteraction of the army and people of the DPRK,” North Korea’s KCNA news agency said, citing a spokesman for the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army.

DPRK stands for the official name of North Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“Our toughest counteraction against the US and its vassal forces will be taken in such a merciless manner as not to allow the aggressors to survive.”

It said the Trump administration’s “serious military hysteria” has reached a “dangerous phase which can no longer be overlooked”.

The US has warned that a policy of “strategic patience” with North Korea is over.

US Vice President Mike Pence travels to South Korea on Sunday on a long-planned 10-day trip to Asia.

China, North Korea’s sole major ally and neighbour, which nevertheless opposes its weapons programme, on Friday again called for talks to defuse the crisis.

“We call on all parties to refrain from provoking and threatening each other, whether in words or actions, and not let the situation get to an irreversible and unmanageable stage,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters in Beijing.

North Korea, still technically at war with the South after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce but not a treaty, has on occasion conducted missile or nuclear tests to coincide with big political events and often threatens the United States, South Korea and Japan.

“You have two of the most unpredictable people on the world stage facing off against each other,” Einar Tangen, a China analyst, told Al Jazeera – referring to Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. “You have armed armadas in position, and you have 11,000 – reportedly – pieces of artillery aimed at Seoul. It’s an explosive situation. The question is – how will it be resolved?”

Jim Walsh, a research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told Al Jazeera that he believed North Korea would conduct a nuclear test but said it was unlikely that the US or its allies would respond militarily.

“I don’t think [the US would] be sending the vice president to Seoul if they were going to respond militarily…also the US policy review on North Korea was concluded last week and basically ruled out military options,” said Walsh.

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Allama Mohammad Iqbal

Complete biography of Allama Mohammad Iqbal as he is one of the renowned and significant leaders who have played a vital role in the independence of Pakistan. Iqbal is the national poet of Pakistan who was born on the 22nd of February, 1873 in Punjab. The forefathers of Iqbal were the Brahmins of Kashmir but Hundreds of years earlier they accepted Islam and were very pious and devoted people. Iqbal received his primary education from a local school in Sialkot before he passed the exam for an intermediary college. The literary knowledge and the aptitude of poetry were transformed in Iqbal from Mir Hassan, who was a great oriental scholar. Iqbal was very much keen is acquiring the Islamic knowledge so has its favorites subject if Islamic studies.

Allama Muhammad Iqbal Biography

Allama Muhammad Iqbal Biography

Passing on to the Government College of Lahore, Iqbal did his graduation with English Literature, Philosophy and Arabic as his subjects. At the college he met Prof. Arnold and Sir Abdul Qadir. Iqbal’s poem, Chand (moon) and other early poems appeared in the journal (which belonged to Sir Abdul Qadir) in 1901 and were acclaimed by critics as cutting a new path in Urdu poetry. Later Iqbal did his MA in Philosophy and soon was being appointed as the Lecturer in Political Science, History and Philosophy at the Oriental College, Lahore. Later he switched to the Government College where he was appointed to teach the English Literature and Philosophy.

Iqbal proceeded to Europe for higher studies in 1905 and stayed there for three years. Heabsence of Prof. Arnold. From England, he went to Germany to do his doctorate in Philosophy from Munich and then returned to London to qualify for the bar. Iqbal returned to India in 1908. The poet had won all these academic laurels by the time he was 32 or 33. He practiced as a lawyer from 1908 to 1934 and then it was his illness which prevented him to continue his practice and so he retired as the lawyer in 1935.

Iqbal was very much disappointed from the results of World War I and was highly aggrieved on the devastating effects of the war on the Muslims, so this was the turning point in the life of Iqbal when he started for the welfare of Muslims and soon when he noticed that there were no short solutions so he presented his ideology for a separate homeland for the Muslims of Sub-continent. And as this ideology was being presented Muslims gathered under new leadership and it was Jinnah who took up the responsibility of implementing the ideas of Iqbal, and meanwhile Iqbal through his patriotic and breathtaking poetry made the Muslims revive and awake and urged them for the run for independence. Unfortunately Iqbal didn’t lived long enough to witness the formation of Pakistan his dream and it was on the 21st April, 1938 when Iqbal died.

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US military drops ‘mother of all bombs on IS’ in Afghanistan

The US military has dropped the biggest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat on an Islamic State group tunnel complex in Afghanistan, the Pentagon says.

The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB), known as "the mother of all bombs", was first tested in 2003, but had not been used before.

The Pentagon said it was dropped from a US aircraft in Nangarhar province.

The news came hours after the Pentagon admitted an air strike in Syria mistakenly killed 18 rebels.

It said a partnered force had mistakenly identified the target location as an IS position, but the strike on 11 April had killed rebels from the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is backed by Washington.

'Many militants killed'

The strike in Afghanistan follows last week's death of a US special forces soldier fighting IS in Nangarhar.

The 21,600lb (9,800kg) bomb was dropped in Achin district on Thursday evening local time, the Pentagon said. It is more than 9m (30 feet) in length.

"We targeted a system of tunnels and caves that ISIS fighters use to move around freely, making it easier for them to target US military advisers and Afghan forces in the area," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, using another name for IS.

He said necessary precautions were taken to prevent civilian casualties and "collateral damage".

The area where the bomb was dropped is mostly mountainous and sparsely populated, BBC correspondents say. Local sources said the explosion was so powerful it was heard in two neighbouring districts.

The US has not yet confirmed the results of the strike, but a local official told the BBC that many IS militants were killed, allegedly including the brother of a senior leader.


'A huge weapon' - Jonathan Marcus, BBC defence and diplomatic correspondent

The clue is in the ungainly name - the MOAB or GBU-43/B massive ordnance air blast is the US military's most destructive conventional (that is non-nuclear) bomb.

It is a huge weapon, and is GPS-guided. This looks to be the first time it has ever been used in combat.

It was dropped from a MC-130 aircraft - the US Special Forces variant of the Hercules transport. The weapon is carried on a special cradle inside the aircraft from which it is extracted by a parachute.

Its principle effect is a massive blast over a huge area. It is a larger version of weapons used during the Vietnam War.

The Trump administration's policy towards Afghanistan remains under consideration but the use of this weapon sends a powerful signal that IS is top of the administration's target list wherever its offshoots may be found.


Gen John Nicholson, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, said the jihadist group's "losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defence.

"This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption IS fighters have moved from Arab countries into Afghanistan

IS announced the establishment of its Khorasan branch - an old name for Afghanistan and surrounding areas - in January 2015. It was the first time that IS had officially spread outside the Arab world.

It was the first major militant group to directly challenge the Afghan Taliban's dominance over the local insurgency.

However, experts say it has struggled to build a wide political base and the indigenous support it expected in Afghanistan.

Estimates about IS's numerical strength inside Afghanistan vary, ranging from several hundred to a few thousand.

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Malala is ‘humbled’ by honorary Canadian citizenship

Nobel Peace prize laureate Malala Yousafzai says she is “humbled” to become the sixth person to receive an honorary Canadian citizenship.

At 19, she is also the youngest ever person to receive the honour.Malala

During the official ceremonies in Ottawa, she called on Canadian politicians to use their influence to help fund education for girls worldwide, including refugees.

Ms Yousafzai is a global advocate for women’s rights and education.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised Ms Yousafzai for her advocacy, calling her “the newest and possibly bravest citizen of Canada”.

The Pakistani schoolgirl activist was originally meant to receive her citizenship in October 2014, an honour bestowed on her under former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper’s government.

That event was cancelled when it coincided with the shooting death of a ceremonial guard Nathan Cirillo and an attack on Parliament by gunman Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.

Malala spoke of the attack in her address said in an address to legislators in the Canadian Parliament on Wednesday. Many in the audience were in Ottawa that day.

“The man who attacked Parliament Hill called himself a Muslim,” she said. “But he did not share my faith.”

She said he instead shared the same hatred as the man who allegedly shot six people at a Quebec City mosque in January, the attacker who killed six peoplein London in March, and the Taliban gunmen who in 2012 shot her for defying their ban on girls attending school in her native Pakistan.

“These men have tried to divide us and destroy our democracies, our freedom of religion, our right to go to school. But we – and you – refuse to be divided,” she said.

She also praised Canada’s embrace of refugees and its ongoing international development work for women and girls.

Only five other people have received honorary Canadian citizenship: Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, religious leader Aga Khan, Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, and Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Malala was accompanied on Wednesday by her parents Ziauddin and Toor Pekai Yousafzai.

Earlier in the day, Malala surprised Ottawa high school students by arriving unannounced to take their questions during an event with by Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, Mr Trudeau’s wife.

Ms Yousafzai will also meet Conservative interim opposition leader Rona Ambrose, who called her a “symbol of determination and hope for young girls around the world”.

In 2009, when she was just 11 years-old, Malala began writing a blog for the BBC Urdu service under a pseudonym, describing her life under the Taliban.

source: BBC news

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