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coming war on lebanon

Washington’s plan to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has ultimately failed. Now Lebanon seems to be in the cross-hairs with tensions between Israel and Hezbollah on the same level that led to the 2006 Lebanon war. There is also the possibility that a new offensive against Syria that might take place as Washington maintains its […]

via The Coming War on Lebanon: Israel, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. Prepare for a Long-Planned Middle East War — Astute News

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US 1 m neighbourhoods

Residential News » New York City Edition | By Michael Gerrity | August 18, 2017 9:00 AM ET Signup for Our Weekly Newsletter » 68 19 6 2 https://apis.google.com/u/0/se/0/_/+1/fastbutton?usegapi=1&size=medium&count=true&origin=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.worldpropertyjournal.com&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.worldpropertyjournal.com%2Freal-estate-news%2Funited-states%2Fnew-york-city-real-estate-news%2Fzillow-number-of-million-dollar-neighborhoods-in-2017-number-of-luxury-neighborhoods-in-us-luxury-homes-for-sale-real-estate-news-10512.php&gsrc=3p&ic=1&jsh=m%3B%2F_%2Fscs%2Fapps-static%2F_%2Fjs%2Fk%3Doz.gapi.en.w_gIfEITxPs.O%2Fm%3D__features__%2Fam%3DAQ%2Frt%3Dj%2Fd%3D1%2Frs%3DAGLTcCMuTkbdoEj93WQ3CgsuU64c4ogL9A#_methods=onPlusOne%2C_ready%2C_close%2C_open%2C_resizeMe%2C_renderstart%2Concircled%2Cdrefresh%2Cerefresh&id=I0_1512335430030&_gfid=I0_1512335430030&parent=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.worldpropertyjournal.com&pfname=&rpctoken=16911355 Manhattan had most new wealthy neighborhoods at 53, San Francisco had 51 According to Zillow, nearly one in 20 residential ZIP codes in the U.S. meets the definition of a $1 Million Neighborhood, meaning […]

via 346 New $1 Million Neighborhoods Formed in U.S. Since 2014 — The Property Gazette

pak russian raproachment

The next logical phase of the Russian-Pakistani rapprochement is the comprehensive expansion of people-to-people ties via the creation of a Russian Friendship Center in Islamabad and other creative outreach initiatives. The Russian-Pakistani rapprochement is proceeding at a comfortable pace on the state-to-state level, with both Great Powers achieving win-win outcomes in regards to their Afghan […]

via The Next People-to-People Phase of the Russian-Pakistani Rapprochement — Astute News

will india attack pakistan

Will India resort to war with Pakistan?
18 November, 2017

By Asif Haroon Raja

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In the wake of constantly deteriorating security situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) owing to heightened turbulence, exasperated and outraged Indian political and military leadership and Indian public are getting restless. 750,000 Indian security forces have been unable to quell the wave of protests that spiraled after the martyrdom of Burhan Wani in July 2016.

The girl students in IOK have also joined the protests and are hurling stones on the soldiers. No one in Kashmir fear the Indian soldiers firing bullets, using chili pellet guns and applying brutal tactics. The world and human rights bodies have begun to take note of the atrocities in Kashmir and hardly a day passes without the foreign newspapers carrying stories and pictures of clashes in Kashmir. Many in India are saying that Kashmir is slipping out of the hands of India. India’s veterans have joined the critics saying that the counter measures taken are insufficient and more force should be used to put fear into the hearts of Kashmiris.

Not knowing how to deal with the uprising and to answer the questions of foreign critics, India has been trying to distract the attention of its home and foreign audiences by blaming Pakistan that it is abetting terrorism in Kashmir. While carrying out unprovoked firing across the LoC in Kashmir, engineering false flag operations and fake surgical strikes, Indian military leaders are heaving threats that India is considering punitive actions against Pakistan for allegedly supporting cross-border terrorism. Last year and this year, Indian and Pakistani forces exchanged some of the heaviest fire in years along the Line of Control [LoC] in Kashmir.

The Indian army chief after threatening to carry out a hard strike at a place of its choosing claimed on May 23 that it had destroyed several Pakistani posts across the LoC. He has often hurled threat of limited war based on Cold Start doctrine. The Indian air chief after alerting the IAF to be ready for a major task threatened that Pak nuclear sites will be destroyed. Pakistan Army rubbished Indian claims and also gave befitting response to all acts of aggression.

India also created an impression that it had succeeded in diplomatically isolating Pakistan and that people of Baluchistan, Gilgit and AJK were supportive of India. Indian political leaders threatened to dry up Pakistan by closing water of the three rivers flowing into Pakistan from IOK and to fragment Pakistan into four parts.

RAW accelerated terror attacks in Baluchistan and elsewhere with the help of its proxies including ISIS (Daesh) based at Nangarhar/Tora Bora. Besides signing defense agreements with USA in 2016, India has speeded up force modernization of Indian armed forces and is frenetically building up its nuclear and conventional defense and offence capabilities. Ostensibly this is being done to make India a bulwark against China. But 80% of India’s strike formations are poised against Pakistan. The US Director Defence Intelligence Agency Lt Gen Vincent Stewart stated on May 23, ‘India was updating its military to better position itself to defend India’s interests in the Indian Ocean region and strengthen its diplomatic and economic outreach across Asia’.

To maximize pressure on Pakistan, India nudged Kabul and Tehran to heat up Pakistan’s western and southwestern borders and both obliged India. Donald Trump in his Afghan policy speech last August, maximized pressure on Islamabad by accusing it that it was involved in proxy war and was still supporting Haqqani network and Afghan Taliban. Mounting tensions have lowered down as a consequence to visits of Khawaja Asif to Washington and Rex Tillerson to Islamabad.

Panama case kept Pakistan’s political temperature on the boil. It led to disqualification of PM Nawaz Sharif for life followed by initiation of corruption cases by accountability court against him and his family. Although the new PM Khaqan Abbasi has steadied the

tottering ship, the overall political climate is wobbly. Some say that crisis have been brewed up by vested groups to derail the political dispensation, disrupt CPEC and other development projects and to pave the way for India to wage a war against destabilized Pakistan.

For all the dogmatic war mongering hyped in every Indian medium, India will never wage a war against Pakistan and if it commits the blunder, it cannot win a war. Verbose threats, surgical strikes, cross-border firing or boisterous bawling on TV channels are all signs of pent up frustration and an effort to let off steam.

The sooner Indian hawkish leaders appreciate this politico-military reality, better it will be for India. Short of total genocide, no country regardless of its war-withal could hope to achieve a decisive victory with a “short war” in today’s world.

India has seen the sorry plight of USA and NATO in the 16-year war on terror and the financial loss it incurred ($ 2.10 trillion in Afghanistan and Iraq alone) and human losses (6623) they have suffered and so far have not achieved any of their objectives. Era of short and decisive war is over. USA had promised a short war in Afghanistan but it has not come out of it till to date.

Pakistan has adequately compensated for its inferiority in conventional power by maintaining full spectrum nuclear deterrence and achieving nuclear parity with India. India’s stratagem of achieving superiority in men and material to overawe Pakistan is a weak strategy and has failed to overawe Pakistan. Pak Army’s stunning gains against foreign backed terrorism has astounded the world and shot up its image. It is now the hardiest Army of the world and is looked upon with respect.

Despite Pakistan’s handicaps and India’s superior diplomatic clout, Pakistan has managed to sail past the rough patch and today it finds itself in a better geopolitical position and seem to have turned the tables on India which had schemed to destabilize it, denuclearize it, isolate and strategically encircle it and then deliver the military instrument to Balkanize it.

Decades of mutual cooperation, technology transfer, training, equipment sales, have bonded the two armies of Pakistan and China into a formidable joint force. The duo has achieved sufficient intimacy and understanding to carry out joint missions against India.

Pakistan’s fast-tracked accomplishments in nuclear technology, missile delivery systems, logistic supply chain of equipment, and spares as well as new-age technologies such as cyber and drone warfare are all the result of close cooperation between the two countries.

In contrast, India has not even been able to integrate its three services, what to speak of assimilation with political leadership, industry, academia and indigenous defense capabilities.

While Pak Army having successfully fought the insurrectional war for 14 years is fully battle inoculated and motivated, Indian military has gained no such experience and its performance against Kashmiri freedom fighters, Naxalites and host of other insurgent groups in various parts of India is dismal. Indian Army is suffering from inertia, sagging morale and ever rising moral and discipline problems.

Indian armed forces still have over 60% of Russian origin defense arsenal which has become obsolete and absorption of western technology will take considerable length of time. This incongruity has affected India’s war preparedness.

India has been investing tens of billions in updating its Soviet-era military hardware to counter long-standing tensions with regional rivals China and Pakistan and is the largest importer of arms. It is now planning to produce defense equipment locally. Defence and nuclear up-gradation is at the cost of alleviation of poverty stricken of great majority.

Praveen Sahwney has mentioned in his book “The Dragon on our doorsteps,” India has primarily focused on developing its military arsenal whereas Pakistan and China have

been developing war waging capabilities, which is a synthesis of many strengths other than just military force.

Whereas Russia is still a strategic partner of India, however, warmth of yester years has cooled after India signed three defense deals with USA last year. Unlike in the past, Russia is now a strategic partner of China and has friendly relations with USA under Trump. It is gradually getting closer to Pakistan and finding space in Afghanistan. Iran’s coolness with Pakistan is fast fading and GCC States misunderstandings with Pakistan has faded.

Notwithstanding the Indo-US strategic alliance, the US cannot afford to lose Pakistan which certainly has a lot of say in Afghan tangle. It has no choice but to continue supporting Pakistan financially and militarily to ensure continuity of logistics supply for its troops and for its safe exit from Afghanistan. On the other hand Pakistan’s dependence on the US has reduced dramatically with China filling in the gap. Pakistan has clearly stated that it needs mutually beneficial trade and not aid.

China’s economic aspirations and access to the Arabian Sea through CPEC and Gwadar seaport is a strategic masterstroke by Pakistan and China. 63% of CPEC is complete while Gwadar Port can get converted into a naval base in the event of war. Not only it is a win-win for the duo but it is also a “lose-lose” for India since CPEC has broken India’s plan to encircle and isolate Pakistan and has landed itself and Afghanistan into the mold of isolation. Full operationalization of CPEC can break the US strategic encirclement of China around South China Sea and China’s dependence on Malacca Strait.

China’s One-Belt-One-Road (OBOR) project of which CPEC is the linchpin has welded the two neighbors into permanent partners. With its heavy economic stakes in Pakistan, China is bound to come to the aid of Pakistan whenever its security is threatened.

Baluchistan, AJK, Gilgit-Baltistan and some vulnerable points along the CPEC in Punjab and Sindh marked as possible targets by India have become exceedingly perilous

objectives for India in the wake of possibility of China’s intervention, thereby precluding the possibility of Indian military action.

Indian former Army Officer Raghu Raman says that “any Indian operation that endangers thousands of Chinese citizens working on the CPEC project in Pakistan will draw the wrath of China and give them the loco standi to initiate hostilities against India. So beyond shallow skirmishes all along the border, India really has no operational or strategic options without the risk of drawing China into a two-front war.”

Although India has posed a two-front threat to Pakistan, Pakistan military has correctly appreciated that the force levels which India will be able to muster against it will be more or less evenly matched, and in the event of Indo-Pak hostilities, it can depend on China for its logistics supply chain as well as splitting the Indian armed forces’ resources and focus by deploying PLA divisions along the border with India. This would in effect, pin down a substantial part of the Indian Army’s reserves to cater for the eastern front.

India also know that now there are too many stakeholders dependent on the success of the OBOR/CPEC project and any disturbance in this area would be attributed to India’s truculence.

Under the circumstances, Indian covert or overt intrusion to scuttle CPEC will earn her a bad name. Likewise, by staying away from composite dialogue with Pakistan to settle disputes will depict India as an obdurate country incapable of setting aside bilateral issues for the larger good of the region.

For the fulfilment of Modi’s ambition to improve the economy of India, the fulcrum for development is stable and peaceful environment and not war mongering and disturbed border. War clouds are an antithesis for economic investments. Even preparation for war costs billions of dollars in terms of resources. Already the covert and propaganda wars unleashed against Pakistan has cost India millions of dollars. India can scarcely afford to go to war when millions of Indian youth are entering the job market whose un-channelised energies is another potential risk.

For a nation to go to war, all its pillars of strength, including its military, economic prowess, industrial capability, external alliances and national will must be aligned in a singular direction to achieve meaningful success. India is engulfed in too many internal vulnerabilities and can ill afford to wage an all-out war with nuclear Pakistan.

While IOK is slipping out of India’s hands, the story is no different in Afghanistan where Taliban are gaining ground and turning the tide.

There is an old couplet by Ramdhari Dinkar which suggests that forgiveness befits a snake which has venom in its bite—not one which is weak, toothless, and harmless. To be taken seriously, India needs to build that strength first rather than spewing ineffectual rhetoric.”

The only option India has against Pakistan is the Covert War supplemented with Hybrid War. At best it may resort to limited attacks close to the border and LoC, which will be effectively retaliated by Pakistan.

The writer is a retired Brig Gen, war veteran, defence & security analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

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saudi -iran at crossroads

Repercussions of the US bid to isolate Iran
01 November, 2017

By Asif Haroon Raja

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Iran under Reza Shah Pahlavi enjoyed best of relations with USA as well as Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Their relations dipped to lowest ebb once Imam Khomeini came to power in March 1979 and the King had to take refuge in Cairo. Iran under Khomeini crashed the twin pillar policy of USA for the Middle East based on Iran and KSA. Islamic revolution in Iran which had a ripple effect in the entire Muslim world including six Muslim Republics of Central Asia was one reason which impelled former Soviet Union to step into Afghanistan in December 1979.

KSA supported Saddam Hussain regime in its nine-year war with Iran (1980-88) owing to its ideological rivalry with Iran. However, KSA led GCC States severed relations with Baghdad when Saddam occupied Kuwait in August 1991. They not only provided military bases to USA but also paid the expenses incurred by US-NATO forces in fighting the First Gulf War in November 1991. The GCC States once again extended support to US-NATO forces in their occupation of Iraq in March 2003, and were on board in 2011 when civil war was triggered in Syria to topple Bashar al-Assad regime, and when Libya was attacked in the same year to knockdown Qaddafi.

Despite the Iran-US antagonism, Iran didn’t object to the US invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001 since it was opposed to the Sunni Taliban regime and viewed it as its ideological rival. It helped US-NATO military by assisting the Afghan Northern Alliance (ANA) which it had hosted since 1996, and in league with Indian military had trained and equipped it. Subsequently, Iran provided support to US-NATO forces in their venture against Iraq in March 2003. Iran-US relations strained again when ostracized Iran was ruled by Ahmadinejad and his regime started to actively pursue nuclear program and develop missile power with the help of Russia.

Over the years, the influence of USA waned in Iraq owing to its policy of ruthless persecution of Sunni Muslims and resistance movement launched by the Jihadists and Baathists. In the wake of mounting casualties of American soldiers, the US military had to abandon Iraq in 2011, but it left behind a monster ISIS, which seized bulk of northwestern Iraq including Fallujah and Mosul in 2014. Conversely, Iran enhanced its influence in Iraq substantially mainly because of Shia heavy southern Iraq contiguous to Iran and the installation of Shia heavy regime under Nurul Maliki and later under Haider Al-Abadi in Baghdad.

Later on, Iran spread its influence into Iraq’s northern Kurdish region. Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has been the main backer of Iraqi Shi’ite paramilitary force. IRGC, Iraqi Shi’ite militias, Iraqi Kurds together with Iraq National Army managed to oust ISIS from Iraq. IRGC Commander Gen Nasseri was killed in the battle of Mosul.

The US lost the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and had to pullout bulk of ISAF forces (120,000) from Afghanistan in December 2014, leaving behind a token force of 12000. Iran, which had considerably lost its influence in Afghanistan during the five-year Taliban rule (1996-2001), once again increased its sway in Shias heavy western Afghanistan and Hazaras dominated Central

Afghanistan due to its close ties with ANA heavy government under Hamid Karzai and later under Ashraf Ghani.

Assisted by Afghan refugees and Al-Qaeda which it had hosted for a long time, Tehran established contacts with Taliban groups and allowed them entry into Iran. It is now supplying arms to them covertly. Presence of Daesh (ISIS) in Afghanistan since mid-2014 and desire to have a say in resolution of Afghan tangle are the main reasons behind arming the Taliban. Afghanistan brought Iran-India closer and coolness in Iran-Pakistan relations.

Iran strengthened its nexus with Syria, its most consistent ally since 1979, and Lebanon based Hezbollah, by adding Iraq and Huthis controlled Yemen. Officers and men of IRGC have been taking active part in Syrian war against the rebels and Daesh. Provision of logistics, technical, financial support ($6 billion annually) coupled with deployment of IRGC (up to 10,000 operatives) by Iran and participation of Hezbollah fighters in the war helped Bashar al-Assad regime to stay in power. IRGC suffered 2000 casualties including Brig Gen Abdollah Khosravi in Syria. Entry of Russian air force in September 2015 helped Assad regime to recover territory and regain balance.

Expansion of Shia arc in the Middle East together with Russia assisted nuclear and missile programs of Iran consternated KSA led Gulf States, Israel and USA. KSA feels it has been strategically encircled by Iran and is well poised to create disturbances in Arab States, while Israel feels its dream of establishing Greater Israel has been shattered.

Alarmed by the growing power of Iran, Israel and USA actively worked on contingencies to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations. Besides imposing four-fold harsh sanctions, hurling threats and developing bunker busting bombs and missiles to be able to hit underground nuclear sites, aircraft carriers were deployed near Suez Canal to dissuade Iran from manufacturing nuclear bomb. In November-December 2011, Israel had come perilously close to exercising the military option but was restrained by USA. Iran managed to keep them at bay due to its nuclear/missile capabilities and Ahmadinejad’s threats to wipe out Israel off the face of earth and to block Strait of Hurmuz. While speed boats were offensively deployed in the Persian Gulf to counter sea invasion, two intruding US drones were shot down by Iran.

It took Bush/Obama Administrations and CIA over 8 years of covert operations to be able to remove hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from power and replace him with Reformist Hassan Rouhani in June 2013. After two years of sustained efforts put in by John Kerry, Iran agreed to roll back nuclear program under a deal with the US, China, Russia, France Germany, UK (P5+1) in July 2015 in return for lifting of sanctions which were badly hurting Iran’s economy. Another reason of cozying up with Iran was to reduce dependence on Pakistan for supplies to ISAF troops and to make use of Afghan-Chahbahar route because of coolness in Pakistan-US relations.

Israel and KSA were unhappy with the nuclear deal, former expressing fears that Iran was continuing to develop weapon-grade uranium bomb. Netanyahu wanted re-imposition of sanctions and to cut Iran’s potent missile program to size. Although Obama expressed his

reservations that Iran was not living up to the spirit of the deal, but he gradually lifted some of the sanctions and unfroze $1.7 billion assets in foreign banks.

Israel view Iran as an existential threat to Israel because of its nuclear/missile capability, linkage with Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas in Gaza and its bellicosity. Miffed by Obama’s disinclination to jeopardize the deal, Israel and American Jewish lobby succeeded in sidelining frontrunner Hillary Clinton and empowering Donald Trump in January 2017.

One of the tasks assigned to Trump was to cancel the nuclear deal, or else restore sanctions to force Iran to curb its missile development program. In compliance with the dictates from Tel Aviv, Trump has adopted a highly confrontational posture against Iran from the very outset. This was evident from his declaration that the nuclear deal is the worst kind of deal which he will tear off. Iran was included in the list of seven Muslim States that were denied US visas.

Iran is accused of violating the nuclear deal by carrying out 12 ballistic missiles tests. IRGC which has been blacklisted is on the hit list and is accused of fomenting instability in the region. Sanctions have been imposed on 25 individuals/entities connected with IRGC and plans are afoot to declare it a rogue outfit. Washington is pressing Europe to stop doing business with IRGC.

Taking advantage of the heightened tiff between Riyadh and Tehran, Trump decided to attend the US-Arab-Islamic Summit in Riyadh in May 2017. During his highly pungent speech, Trump expressed his open ended hostility against Iran. He declared Iran as the biggest sponsor of terrorism in the world. He backed the Saudi led 41-member Islamic Alliance and signed $110 billion defence deal with Riyadh. All this was done to pitch GCC States against Iran and to isolate and contain Iran.

Another significant development which took place soon after the Summit was the standoff between KSA and Qatar. Strengthened by the US support, King Saud decided to take a tough line against Qatar which it felt had become an eyesore on account of its close economic ties with Iran and its support to Muslim Brotherhood (MB). Doha controlled Al-Jazeera which lambasts Gulf States is another point of friction. KSA, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt snapped diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar in June, accusing it of sponsoring terrorism and cozying up with Iran. A de facto blockade was imposed on the country by closing the air, sea and land routes to isolate Qatar.

The US which maintains a large airbase in Qatar stood by Riyadh since tiff between Muslim States suits its overall policy of ‘divide and conquer’. To start with President Trump took credit for the Riyadh-Doha tiff, which he implied was an intentional US-led strategy. However, in its bid to isolate Iran, the US is now trying to deescalate tensions between KSA and Qatar but so far no breakthrough has been achieved since Doha is defiant and refuses to cut off support to the MB, break its ties with Iran and close Al-Jazeera media outlet as demanded by Riyadh. Qatar is in the know of KSA’s policy of promoting Wahhabism and supporting Salafi Jihadists.

Moving ahead with its policy of isolating Iran, the US under Trump played a role in bringing a thaw in Riyadh-Baghdad relations in 2017. In its bid to wean away Iraq from Iran, US Secretary of

State Rex Tillerson has succeeded in wooing the Gulf allies to cozy up with Iraq with a view to isolate and contain Iran and to counter its growing assertiveness in the region. Haider has assented since he is badly in need of the US monetary assistance to reconstruct war torn Iraq.

The big question is what happens if the nuclear deal is scrapped by Washington? Obviously, Iran will recommence its frozen nuclear program and double its efforts to manufacture a uranium bomb at the earliest irrespective of re-imposition of sanctions. The next question is whether Israel will singly, or backed by USA attack Iran’s nuclear sites? The problem at hand is that while Netanyahu and his hawkish cabinet are war mongers, Trump is impulsive and will prefer a military action over restraint policy as practiced by Obama. Furthermore, Trump’s core national security team was against the nuclear deal and James Mattis consider Iran as “single most enduring threat to the stability and peace in Middle East”.

On the contrary, Russia, China and most Europe are eager to preserve the deal and to do business with Iran. Russia which has signed S-400 air defence system deal with Riyadh, and is close to Iran and Syria is likely to play the US and Iran off each other to make Iran more dependent upon Moscow. Over one-year breather has allowed Iran to refurbish its economy. It has escape doors in Europe, China, Russia, South Korea and India to export its oil and gas.

Undoing of nuclear deal and sounding of war drums by Israel will have dangerous repercussions for the region which is already in turmoil. Military adventure by Israel will evoke a very strong response from Iran and could trigger war in the region. IRGC Commander has already threatened to raze the US military base in Bahrain and to devastate Tel Aviv with its missiles. Blockade of Strait of Hurmuz will deprive the world of one-thirds of oil trade. Anti-American and anti-Israel sentiments have once again begun to gather steam in Iran. If Iran is ditched by USA, it will hasten to join the block of China-Russia-SCO, towards which Turkey and Pakistan are also inclined.

The US already stuck in the quagmires of Afghanistan and Syria and having no clue how to get out of them, has antagonized nuclear North Korea and is now infuriating Iran. It is also showing eyes to Pakistan. China, Russia, Turkey and most of Middle East countries are wary of USA because of its jingoistic foreign policy, dangerous designs and duplicities. Many European countries are also cagy in their dealings with USA under Trump. Instead of isolating Iran, the US itself is getting isolated. So is the case with India under extremist Modi trying to isolate Pakistan! Without the US intimate support, Israel will become a Pariah State. The warmongering US, Israel and India are spoilers of peace and have made the world insecure. Conversely, China through its One-Belt-One-Road policy has become the leading promoter of peace and development and is on its way to become the leading economic power.

The writer is a retired Brig, war veteran, defence and security analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

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CHILDREN GIVING BIRTH TO CHILDREN IN PAKISTAN

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Children giving birth to children in Pakistan
Murtaza HaiderUpdated December 06, 2014
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—Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro.
—Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro.
These girls could have also become Malala Yousafzai or Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, but they didn’t.

They were married off in their early teens, and before they could escape childhood, some gave birth to their own children.

Child marriage is widespread in Pakistan. Girls as young as 13 are married off by their parents or guardians. Poverty, illiteracy, religious beliefs, and cultural norms and pressures are some of the reasons behind this practice. For the young mothers, early motherhood is often accompanied with high fertility, and poor maternal and children health.

Over the past five decades, significant improvement has taken place in battling child marriages.

A relatively much smaller proportion of young girls is married off today than was 50 years ago. Still, much more work is needed to curb such practices to ensure Pakistan’s future mothers and their children can lead healthy and prosperous lives.

Know more: Married off for ‘honour’: Pakistan’s child brides

Teenage pregnancies are not just a challenge for developing countries. Even the US is struggling with the same challenge, with additional complexities.

In 2006, the cumulative risk of a teenager becoming pregnant in her teen years was one in three. The US government has been struggling to curb this trend. By 2010, the numbers were down to one in four. Teenage pregnancy, birth, and abortion rates were all down. Greater awareness about contraceptives and their effective use and cultural changes are the reason behind the decline in these numbers.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-30275449
Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-30275449
In Pakistan, though, teenage pregnancies result in additional complexities. In a recent paper published in the Maternal and Child Health Journal, Muazzam Nasrullah and others explore the impact of girl child marriages on fertility in Pakistan.

Read on: Fatal conception — stilled life

Using data from the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey for 2006-07, the authors found that over 50 per cent of the ever-married women in Pakistan between the ages of 20 and 24 were married before they turned 18. Most international conventions consider individuals under 18 as children.

The authors believe that the adverse impacts of girl child marriages include high fertility rates (three or more childbirths), frequent childbirth with fewer than 24 months between births, unwanted pregnancies, and pregnancy termination.

Source: Nasrullah et. al., 2014
Source: Nasrullah et. al., 2014
Pakistan has made tremendous progress in increasing the average age at marriage for girls, which increased from 13.3 years in 1950-59 to 23.1 in 2006-07. But despite the good work done, one in two young girls is still married off before she turns 18.

This has to change.

The poor health of the teenage mother and her child, and higher risks for disease and death for both should convince the governments to increase the legal age for marriage.

Explore: Half of South Asia’s girls marry before 18: UN

The main determinants of childhood marriage are the usual suspects. Most child brides have no formal education and live in Pakistan’s rural areas. Of those, who were between 20-24 years old, 75 per cent women reported at least one childbirth. Almost 32 per cent women in the same cohort gave birth to a child in the first year after their marriage. Another 20 per cent of 20-24 years old had at least once terminated a pregnancy.

The recent crisis of over 100 reported deaths of children in rural Sindh should be a revelation for the government and the public at large.

At the face of it, drought has been identified as a contributing factor. It could very well be true that these children were of poor health from the beginning and that some of them may have been born to teenage mothers.

The mother and child’s health has to become a priority in Pakistan.

But given the crisis-prone nature of the country, the government’s and the media’s focus will soon shift to yet another crisis, ignoring the deep-rooted crisis of mother and child health.

Pakistan needs to invest in its people to build a prosperous country. It can start by investing in the health of mothers and children to preserve the future generation of Pakistanis.

Note: An earlier version of the blog misstated the risk of becoming pregnant in the US. The error is regretted.

Related:

Child marriage
Sindh Assembly passes bill prohibiting child marriages
Enforcement of child marriage restriction law yet to begin
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Author Image
Murtaza Haider is a Toronto-based academic and the director of Regionomics.com.

He tweets @regionomics

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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’امریکا، افغانستان میں بھارت کا کردار محدود کرے‘
پارسی: جو بانیانِ کراچی ہیں
پارسی: جو بانیانِ کراچی ہیں
اسموگ کیا ہے اور اس سے بچنا کیسے ممکن؟
اسموگ کیا ہے اور اس سے بچنا کیسے ممکن؟
Comments (51) Closed
PopularNewestOldest
white noise
Dec 06, 2014 04:48pm
you would need an eternity to fix the system.

Recommend 15
S. Haider
Dec 06, 2014 06:38pm
I wish, the members of Islamic Ideology Council read this informative article and also the research paper cited herein. This article should be translated in Urdu and published in DAWN-Urdu. The illustration of Khuda Bux Abro is excellent.

Recommend 20
Khalid
Dec 06, 2014 06:38pm
1980-89 was the best era.

Recommend 5
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America Losing Afghanistan by Every Metric that Matters — Astute News

A new report by a Congressionally mandated watchdog group paints a grim picture of the progress (or lack thereof) in Afghanistan. The national conversation has been focused on North Korea and Russia lately, while talk about counterinsurgency tactics has centered on fighting the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria, and northern Africa. Meanwhile, you hardly hear […]

via America Losing Afghanistan by Every Metric that Matters — Astute News