What are the main issues in the US-Pak relationship these days? Today, US ambassador-nominate for Pakistan William Todd detailed them in his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Some highlights from his testimony. 1/n foreign.senate.gov/hearings/nomin…
His summary of where US relationship with Pakistan stands: "...this is a longstanding and important, but always complicated and sometimes contentious relationship. We certainly have our differences, but Pakistan is an essential regional partner..."
Issue #1 is Afghanistan: "Pakistan played a critical role in creating the conditions that brought Afghan leaders and the Taliban to the historic start of Afghan Peace Negotiations. They have an even more important role to play in supporting efforts..."
"...toward a negotiated political settlement that ends 40 years of war. This is a moment of opportunity for Pakistan to continue to forge a new and better role in the region and if confirmed will be one of my highest priorities."
Issue #2 is the India-Pak relationship: "..although we have a strong relationship with India, that does not need to come at the expense of Pakistan. I believe that under the right conditions, we can have a strong relationship with both countries.
"Our hope is that both countries will take the necessary steps to reduce tensions, and as President Trump has offered, we are prepared to facilitate dialogue if both sides request it."
Issue #3 is terrorism: "To truly reduce regional tensions, and rebuild a strong relationship with [US], [Pak] must take sustained and irreversible action against terrorism...I will work with[Pak]...in eliminating terrorism from its territory and advancing security in the region."
Issue #4 is non-proliferation/security of nuclear weapons, maybe tactical ones: "[will engage with Pak on] strategic stability and non-proliferation, carrying a clear message on the threat that nuclear weapons pose to the United States, the region, and our allies and partners..."
"Pakistan needs to demonstrate it is prepared to live up to international commitments on weapons of mass destruction."
Issue #5 is safety of religious minorities: "I was shocked and heartbroken that U.S. citizen Tahir Naseem was killed in a Pakistani courtroom in which he was facing an accusation of blasphemy."
"I grieve with the family of Mr. Naseem, and if confirmed, will engage Pakistani authorities on full accountability for the perpetrators."
Issue #6 restrictions against journalists, free expression: "I am also concerned about increasing restrictions on civil society, including the growing harassment and disappearances of journalists without accountability..." n/n

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More from @asfandyarmir

24 Oct
Senior al-Qaida leader Husam Abd-Al Rauf — referred here as Mohsin al Masri — seems to have been killed by Afghan intelligence in Ghazni province. He had been in the region for a while including Waziristan circa 2005-2014 and there was no news of his targeting or leaving Af-Pak.
I speculated in (footnote of) @MiddleEastInst report that Rauf might still be in Afghanistan: mei.edu/publications/a…. He was on FBI wanted list: fbi.gov/wanted/wanted_…. He was a feature in al-Qaida media; as early as 05, wrote in Vanguards of Khorasan & released video in 2019.
Too bad he wasn’t captured alive — that could have provided more visibility into al-Qaida’s presence in and strategy for the region, and status of Zawahiri. Maybe they have picked up other documents etc from site of the raid?
Read 6 tweets
22 Oct
Great story by @wesleysmorgan: "the U.S. military has been quietly helping the Taliban to weaken the Islamic State...Remarkably, it can do so without needing to communicate with the Taliban, by observing battle conditions and listening in on the group." washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/1…
"...inside JSOC, the team working on this mission is jokingly known as the “Taliban Air Force,” one task force member told me."
"As negotiators closed in on their deal in Doha, officers repurposed tools honed against the Taliban: Reaper drones and an intelligence complex with nearly two decades of practice spying on Afghan guerrillas."
Read 8 tweets
16 Oct
Trump is thinking troops withdrawals from Afghanistan & Somalia. One proposal seems to be to shift Somalia strategy from a broad targeting + train-&-advise campaign to the Idlib model--limited to targeting of int'l terror cells in Shabab. nytimes.com/2020/10/15/us/…
"White House convened a small interagency meeting of senior officials late last week to discuss Mr. Trump’s demand for more drastic troop withdrawal options [from Afghanistan and Somalia?], according to three officials..."
On Somalia: "One idea now under consideration would involve removing most or all ground troops from the country...ending strikes aimed at combating or degrading the Shabab, Al Qaeda’s largest and most active global affiliate."
Read 6 tweets
14 Oct
Trump will make a major speech in which he will announce an "additional decrease" in troops in Afghanistan. nbcnews.com/politics/2020-…
Also has details on Trump's tussle with military advisers on troop reduction: "During a recent White House meeting the issue came up again, officials said, and Trump pushed for bringing home all American forces. But military advisers...argued in favor of keeping...residual force"
"Growing increasingly frustrated at the pushback, Trump made his views known on Twitter. "We should have the small remaining number...home by Christmas!"...Trump's public declaration was intended "to light a fire under the commanders," a senior administration official said."
Read 4 tweets
22 Sep
Today Special Envoy for Afghan peace Zalmay Khalilzad testified to the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on National Security. Things which struck out: 1/n oversight.house.gov/legislation/he…
1. In his opening statement, Khalilzad criticizes Afghan leaders for the civil war in the 90s -- saying they "did not behave responsibly or judiciously." oversight.house.gov/sites/democrat…
2. He says the US will "continue to advocate our values, including electoral democracy, rights of women and
religious minorities, [but] recognize that only Afghans can find a sustainable formula that is unique to their history and culture." oversight.house.gov/sites/democrat…
Read 8 tweets
21 Sep
According to this story, ISIS is raising money by selling cigarettes, face masks and through cryptocurrency: wsj.com/articles/islam…
"...officials from the U.N., the U.S. and the U.K. have been investigating a network...from the Iraqi border town of Rawa...Known as “Selselat al-Thahab,” or the Golden Chain, authorities say the network is transferring cash out of...Eastern Syria to Dubai and through Turkey."
"Islamic State also has sought new opportunities in the Covid-19 pandemic. U.S. law enforcement earlier this year found Islamic State capitalizing on the shortage of safety equipment...in Turkey sold facemasks and other personal protective gear through online sites..."
Read 4 tweets

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