Pakistan cannot be a strategic US ally: Experts

Ambassador (retd) Abdul Basit flanked by PTI lawmaker Dr. Shireen Mazari and Major General (retd) Hafiz Masroor Ahmed speak at a seminar, “United States’ South Asia Policy: Challenges for Pakistan,” here in Islamabad. (AN photo)
Updated 19 March 2018
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Pakistan cannot be a strategic US ally: Experts

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan cannot be a strategic ally of the US as the latter’s interests in South Asia contradict Pakistan’s national interests, defense and security experts said on Monday at a seminar in Islamabad organized by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
Pakistan’s relationship with the US is transactional, and Islamabad mistook it as strategic, said Abdul Basit, president of the Islamabad Policy Research Institute.
US interests in South Asia “are totally in contradiction to the national interests of Pakistan,” and “we don’t have any foreign policy to deal with the challenges,” he added.
A lack of convergence of interests, and of economic cooperation, are the major contributing factors to the relationship’s poor history, he said.
“We need to formulate proactive diplomacy and behave as a mature nation instead of just reacting to international developments,” he said. “During the last four years, we have lost our space in US diplomacy.”
Dr. Shireen Mazari, a lawmaker with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and director general of the Strategic Studies Institute Islamabad, said Pakistan miscalculated its relationship with the US.
“Pakistan has been acting against its own interests in the region just to serve the US, and this should come to an end now,” she said.
The rise of India as a regional power, the isolation of Iran and the containment of China are the major US interests in South Asia, she added.
“Our national interests did not converge with the interests of the US,” Mazari said, adding that America can never be a natural strategic ally to Pakistan.
Security analyst Imtiaz Gul said the relationship remains hostage to fundamental differences. “Pakistan needs to work out some fundamental changes in its foreign policy to normalize relations with the US,” he added.
Pakistan should capitalize on its geostrategic importance and redefine its relationship with the US and India for regional peace and stability, he said.
Hafiz Masroor Ahmed, vice president of the Center for Global and Strategic Studies, said Indian influence in Afghanistan poses a danger to Pakistan.
Islamabad should not be a hostage to US interests in the region, as peace talks in Afghanistan with the Taliban were sabotaged by Washington, he added. “All our institutions should formulate a joint strategy to deal with the US,” he said.
Shakeel Ahmad, director of research uptake and business development at the SDPI, said the Trump administration “has brought a mix of change and continuity in the country’s foreign and security policies, including those in South Asia, and we need to understand that for a better relationship.”


About 20 Nigerian soldiers missing after Boko Haram ambush — Reuters sources

Updated 16 July 2018
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About 20 Nigerian soldiers missing after Boko Haram ambush — Reuters sources

  • Soldiers say their missing comrades were taken by the militants during an ambush
  • Military command denies losing troops, saying the terrorists in fact lost 22 of their men in fighting
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria: About 20 Nigerian soldiers are missing after a clash with Boko Haram militants in the northeast of the country, security sources said on Monday, though the military denied reports that some troops could not be found.
The confrontation between militants and troops took place on Saturday in the Bama area of Borno, the state worst hit by the jihadist group which has killed more than 30,000 people since 2009 when it launched an insurgency to create an Islamic caliphate.
Three soldiers told Reuters more than 20 were missing.
“We lost some of our soldiers in the attack. It is possible those missing are dead. We haven’t seen about 23 of them now,” said an officer who did not want to be named.
Another soldier involved in the clash said the troops were ambushed while conducting a “clearance operation,” adding that “over 20 soldiers have not been seen up till now.” He said five military vehicles were taken.
The militant group carries out suicide bomb attacks in crowded places, such as markets, as well as gun raids and attacks on military bases.
At a news conference on Monday, the military said media reports of the soldiers being missing were untrue.
An army spokesman said suspected Boko Haram militants had tried to seize military vehicles in an attempted attack on troops in Bama but they had been repelled by troops backed by the air force.
“About 22 members of Boko Haram terrorists were neutralized while several others escaped with gunshot wounds. Efforts are being intensified by the troops to get the fleeing members of the Boko Haram terrorists,” said a military spokesman.
Boko Haram held territory around the size of Belgium in northeast Nigeria for several months until being pushed off much of that land in early 2015 by Nigeria’s army and troops from neighboring countries.
Bama, about 60 km (40 miles) southeast of Borno’s state capital Maiduguri, was held by Boko Haram from September 2014 until March 2015.
Nigeria’s government has said since December 2015 that Boko Haram has been “technically defeated.” Yet attacks continue in the northeast while another group, a Daesh ally that split from Boko Haram in 2016, holds territory.