Pakistan’s ex-army chief General Raheel Sharif to lead Saudi military alliance

8 January 2017; Siegfried O. Wolf

Interview/Quotation with Deutsche Welle, conducted by Shamil Shams:

Pakistan’s former army chief Raheel Sharif has been appointed to head a Saudi-led military coalition. Analysts say this could jeopardize Pakistan’s ties with Iran as the 39-member alliance is heavily involved in Yemen. Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif has confirmed that General Raheel Sharif is to command the 39-member Islamic Military Alliance. The alliance was formed by Saudi Arabia to deal with conflicts in the Middle East, particularly to quell the Iran-backed Houthi insurgency in Yemen. Continue reading “Pakistan’s ex-army chief General Raheel Sharif to lead Saudi military alliance”

It’s Not Only about Illegal Migration & International Law: The Uighur Conundrum

21 July 2016; by Siegfried O. Wolf

Image by mike.benedetti

There is much media attention on Thailand’s latest deportation of more than 100 Uighur back to China, which was officially confirmed on 9 July 2015. The asylum seekers which entered the South East Asian country illegally got subsequently detained by the Thai immigration authorities and held in custody for over a year. In order to find a solution, the Royal Thai government finally decided to hand them over to China ‘under the agreement that their safety is guaranteed according to humanitarian principles’. Nevertheless, Bangkok had to face immense criticism by the international community, especially through human rights organisations and the United Nations. UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Volker Türk, proclaimed he is considering the deportation of the Uighurs as ‘a flagrant violation of international law’. Additionally, in several countries such as Turkey and Germany, remarkable protests broke out not only to express solidarity with the Uighurs but also to formulate grievances about the manner in which deportation was carried out.

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Bangladesh’s Counter-Terror Act: Need for a Political Solution

bd_terror-act

Increasing concerns about the rise of terrorist attacks 

The terrorist attack in Dhaka’s international and diplomatic enclave Gulshan at the beginning of this month, which left at least 21 victims of different nationalities dead, was followed within less than a week by a bomb attack during the largest Eid congregation (Eid-ul-Fitr the greatest festival of the Muslims) at Sholakia ground at Kishoreganj, killing at least four people and leaving several people injured. Once again, the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility, at least directly for the attack in Gulshan. Regarding the Kishoreganj bombing, there are severe indications that it got inspired by IS since it seems to be in close relation with an IS propaganda video just released two days before. Nevertheless, the government officials are following the old rhetoric of continuing to deny the presence of foreign militant groups on the country’s soil.

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The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: An Assessment of its Feasibility and Impact on Regional Cooperation

28 June 2016, by Siegfried O. Wolf

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a multi-billion dollar infrastructure investment project, is heralded as a game changer for Pakistan’s economy and for regional cooperation more generally. As a crucial part of the major development initiative led by China, known as ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR), to connect Asia with Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the CPEC is widely linked to hopes, interests, as well as regional and global geopolitics. However, such a mega-project also raises numerous questions, especially with regards to the feasibility of its implementation, the impact on the region and, India’s stance vis-a-vis the endeavour. Therefore, this Research Paper seeks to shed light on involved interests and challenges, potential impact on regional development and makes special reference of India’s role in it.

Read more at:

SADF WORKING PAPER 1 – The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: An Assessment of its Feasibility and Impact on Regional Cooperation

Crackdown on Islamists: Bangladesh’s New Campaign against Jihadi Terror in Perspective

24 June 2016; by Siegfried O. Wolf

Earlier this month, Bangladesh’s security forces carried out a nationwide crackdown on radical Islamists in the country. The main part of the campaign ran over several days and included interventions by thousands of police and paramilitary personal, led to the arrest of more than 11,300 people.

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Pakistan and Terrorism: China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as Critical Juncture?

11 May 2016

Image by the US Institute of Peace

Regionalism in South Asia has entailed the search for collective efforts to overcome mostly weak, congeneric economies, political fragmentation, socio-religious cleavages and the consequent deep-rooted conflicts between different states, especially between Pakistan and India. In order to enhance regional cooperation, for quite some time, the idea of Economic Corridor (EC) has become not only a trend in foreign policy strategies but also a buzzword in plans for stimulating economic growth as well as deeper integration of Asia’s sub-regions. This has especially been the case within South East Asia, spearheaded by the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) initiative. In South Asia, it is a more recent phenomenon that the establishment of economic corridors has gained prominence. One of the most advanced examples is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

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Ansarullah Bangla Team: A Major Threat for Bangladesh’s Democracy

30 January 2016

Image by UNAMID (Albert González Farran)

Since 9/11, the world has considered Pakistan and Afghanistan as the epicentre of Islamic fundamentalism in South Asia, incarnated in the Taliban movement and its affiliates. Many of the early observations dealt with the tremendous challenge which terrorism and religious-militant extremism would pose to peace and stability (from a geopolitical perspective). Continue reading “Ansarullah Bangla Team: A Major Threat for Bangladesh’s Democracy”

From Export to Import: The rise of Jihadism and the advent of the Islamic State in Bangladesh

13 October 2015

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Bangladesh is threatened by an increasing surge of radical Islamist violence. The killings of Bangladeshi liberal thinkers and progressive secularists, such as the blogger Avijit Roy[1], are not an entirely new phenomenon and exemplify the gravity of the situation. As such, the murder of secular thinkers in Bangladesh is only the gloomy peak of growing Jihadi influence in the country. Continue reading “From Export to Import: The rise of Jihadism and the advent of the Islamic State in Bangladesh”

Pakistan’s Political Stiffness: The ‘Social Agreement’ for FATA’s North Waziristan

14 July 2015; Siegfried O. Wolf

In witnessing the 2013 general election and the installation of a new government entrusted with a remarkable majority in vote, the people of Pakistan and many international observers thought that the time for major change had finally come. Especially the country’s neglected and repressed areas, like North Waziristan, which is part of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), were hoping for significant improvement of their socio-political and economic conditions. However, after two years in power, it seems more and more obvious that the current administration of Nawaz Sharif did not intend to change the patterns of Islamabad’s decision-making in any significant policy area. Today, the country’s political arena is still determined by the unchallenged supreme role of the army, the lack of political will and capacities of civilians to implement any noteworthy reform measures, endemic corruption, and the ongoing dominance of the Punjab province and its establishment leading to the consequent side-lining of the smaller territorial entities. Continue reading “Pakistan’s Political Stiffness: The ‘Social Agreement’ for FATA’s North Waziristan”

Will North-Waziristan turn into a Jihadist hub after Operation Zarb-e-Azb again?

June 2015; Siegfried O. Wolf

On 15 June 2014, Pakistan‟s Armed Forces launched a major operation against terrorists in North Waziristan, which is part of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), a remote and restive mountainous region bordering Afghanistan. The military campaign marks the end of a series of fruitless attempts to negotiate with Islamic terrorists. However, after the Jihadists continued their attacks on Pakistani soil, it seems that even Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, known for having a weakness for Islamic fundamentalism, understands that conflicts with Jihadists cannot be resolved through dialogue. In this case, the deadly attack on Karachi‟s airport a week before Zarb-e-Azb started doubtlessly triggered this turning point. Zarb-e-Azb, which means „Strike of the Prophet‟s Sword‟. Continue reading “Will North-Waziristan turn into a Jihadist hub after Operation Zarb-e-Azb again?”