No nation state wanted to receive VP Pence on his planned travel to the Middle East. To get his mileage on foreign travel, he abruptly opted to visit wartorn nation of Afghanstan in order to bully Pakistan to do more in fight against terrorists. Great diplomacy United States … not much has changed in fifty years of the expanding the corporate empire.
CAIRO — Vice President Mike Pence’s planned visit to the Middle East, the cradle of Christianity, ought to have had a particular poignancy in the days before Christmas.
It didn’t quite work out that way.
When he first floated the idea of a trip in October, Mr. Pence, an evangelical Christian, vowed to highlight the persecution of Christians at the hands of Islamic State extremists, and he scheduled meeting with several Christian leaders, which was sure to play well with his conservative American base.
“Christianity now faces an exodus in the Middle East unrivaled since the days of Moses,” he said in a speech sprinkled with biblical references. “Help is on the way.”
From safe haven in Kabul (Bagram AFB) VP Pence bullies Pakistan to do more in War on Terror.
More below the fold …
United States Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday arrived in Afghanistan on a surprise visit during which he met with Afghan leaders in Kabul and addressed US troops at the Bagram airfield, becoming the most senior Trump administration official to visit the men and women fighting America’s longest-ever war.
Addressing 15,000 US personnel at Bagram Airfield, Pence warned Pakistan against offering safe havens to terrorists.
He reiterated word for word President Donald Trump’s warning that Pakistan must stop offering cross-border safe havens to Taliban factions and armed militant groups fighting US troops and their Afghan allies.
“Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with the United States, and Pakistan has much to lose by continuing to harbour criminals and terrorists,” Penec said.
“President Trump has put Pakistan on notice,” Pence added.
Taliban on the run
As he thanked the US troops for their service, the vice president told them that they have put the Taliban on the run.
“The American people deserve to know that with the courage of everyone gathered here, we’re making real progress in this fight for freedom in Afghanistan,” Pence told the troops.
“We’ve dramatically increased American air strikes. And together with our Afghan partners, we’ve put the Taliban on the defensive,” he said, also pointing at efforts to target the drug trafficking networks that help fund the Taliban.
“All across this country we’ve won new victories against the terrorists, no matter what they call themselves or where they try to hide.”
- ○ It is hard to find anyone in the Afghan capital willing to speak in favour of Pakistan | Dawn – Opinion |
Ahmed. In 1965, Pakistan had started gravitating towards China, and the United States had started to have a very sceptical view of Pakistan……
Marker. Yes, and the [Americans] bullied us like hell. They bullied us over India, telling us that India is a good country and is our neighbour and that we should be friends with it.
Ahmed. Who was the architect of Pakistan’s relations with China?
Marker. [Huseyn Shaheed] Suhrawardy, unquestionably. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto [came to it later], going around wearing those Mao caps.
Ahmed. But Suhrawardy remained prime minister for only thirteen months in 1956 and 1957.
Marker. What is important about [relations with China] is that it did not change, but it was only redirected [when Bhutto became foreign minister].
“It did [annoy the world] and the Indians exploited that.
They said Pakistan had a slave’s mentality towards the West.”
Ahmed. What do you say about Suhrawardy’s position on the Suez Canal Crisis when he supported the West against Egypt?
Marker. He said the Arabs were zero plus zero plus zero and he was quite right. They were thoroughly useless.
Ahmed. But didn’t it annoy people around the world? Nationalistic feelings were on the rise at the time?
Marker. It did [annoy the world] and the Indians exploited that. They said Pakistan had a slave’s mentality towards the West.
Ahmed. In 1969, Bhutto wrote The Myth of Independence in which he observed that we went an extra mile to befriend the United States, yet the United States did not fully reciprocate. To what extent was his analysis correct?
Marker. Bhutto’s foreign policy for Pakistan was what was good for Bhutto. Deep down, he didn’t care about Pakistan … [Even when he was running a pro-China foreign policy], he was accumulating support and recognition for himself. He got that recognition, even from China that [felt], `He could be our man.’
Ahmed. But Bhutto was not the only person running the state. He remained foreign minister for not more than three years. I mean, Ayub Khan was there. The military establishment was there and both were more powerful than the foreign minister.
Marker. They were very fiercely supported by Bhutto because he knew that was where the power rested in Pakistan — in the General Headquarters.
Begum Nusrat Bhutto lived in Cannes, in the French Riviera. The lodgings were loaned to her by the then French minister of justice. The minister was a good friend of the Bhuttos as was President Gaddafi of Libya. Gaddafi had given large sums of money to the Bhuttos. One evening during dinner in a restaurant, the two boys — Murtaza and Shahnawaz — entered into an argument over the division of the money.
“Benazir tried to calm them down but she didn’t succeed,” remembers Marker. In the end she took her mother and sister back to their home, while Murtaza followed Shahnawaz to his flat. The fight turned ugly. At some point the French police came to arrest the inmates. By that time Shahnawaz was unconscious. He had taken an overdose of drugs. The police could not arrest Murtaza because he had a Syrian diplomatic passport. Later that night the younger brother passed away. The police arrested his Afghan wife for “not coming to the aid of a dying man.” She hired a lawyer but the case was quashed by the bereaved family when she threatened to spill the beans.
[In VP Pence speech, all added links are mine – Oui]
And finally, allow me to thank all the faith leaders who traveled from near and far to be with us tonight — leaders of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Antiochian Orthodox Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Melkite Catholic Church, the Maronite Catholic Church, and so many other faith traditions from across the Middle East. I had the opportunity to meet with many of these leaders at the White House not long ago. And I know I speak on behalf of everyone here when we look at these great examples of courage and faith, your witness in an inspiration to us all, and it’s an honor to share this evening with you. (Applause.)
Truthfully, we are here because of you.
The Bible tells us that: “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” and the flocks you shepherd are among the most persecuted in all of the world. It’s largely what brings us here tonight.
Nearly 2,000 years ago, the disciples of Jesus left their home country. They left their land, radiating outward from Israel in every direction, bringing with them the Good News that is proclaimed to this day. But sadly today, Christianity is under unprecedented assault in those ancient lands where it first grew.
In the mountains of Syria, the valleys of Lebanon, on the plains of Nineveh, the plateaus of Armenia, on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates, the delta of the Nile, the fathers and mothers of our faith planted seeds of belief. They’ve blossomed and borne fruit ever since. But now that garden of faith, generations in the making, is under threat. It’s under threat of persecution and mistreatment. Many of the Christian communities that first embraced the message of Christ are today the targets of unspeakable acts of violence and atrocity.
In Egypt, we see the bombing of churches during Palm Sunday celebrations — a day of hope transformed into a day of horror.
In Iraq, we see monasteries demolished, priests and monks beheaded, the two-millennia-old Christian tradition in Mosul clinging for survival.
In Syria, we see ancient communities burned to the ground, believers tortured for confessing Christ, and women and children sold into slavery.
Let me assure you tonight, President Trump and I see these crimes for what they are — vile acts of persecution animated by hatred for Christians and the Gospel of Christ. And so too does this President know who and what has perpetrated these crimes, and he calls them by name — radical Islamic terrorists. (Applause.)
The practitioners of terror seek to stamp out all religions that are not their own, and believers of many backgrounds have suffered grievously at their hands — Yazidis, Druze, and even their fellow Muslims.
Yet these barbarians harbor a special hatred for the followers of Christ. And under the unwavering attacks, Christianity now faces an exodus in the Middle East unrivaled since the days of Moses.
It’s heartbreaking to think that the Christian population in Syria has been cut in half in just the past six years — plummeting from over 1.25 million to only 500,000 today.
In Iraq, the followers of Christ have fallen by 80 percent in the past decade and a half. And across the wider Middle East, we can now see a future in many areas without the Christian faith. But tonight, I came to tell you: Help is on the way. (Applause.)
Censure of US support for India
The FO also took a swipe at the United States’ efforts to prop India as a regional power, saying countries should be given such statuses on the basis of their “constructive contributions”.
“Ironically, a country with a record of defiance of UNSC [United Nations Security Council] resolutions, introduction of nuclear weapons in South Asia and use of terrorism as a state policy is being projected as a regional leader,” the FO statement said.
It said violence committed by India in held Kashmir and ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) targeting civilians are undermining strategic stability in South Asia.
It stressed that Pakistan has put in place a highly efficient, robust and centralised command and control mechanism to secure its nuclear arsenal.
The country remains “committed to protect our sovereignty, territorial integrity and national interest determined by the people of Pakistan”, the FO said.
The Trump administration’s first foreign policy — announced on Monday — urges Pakistan to demonstrate that it’s a “responsible steward” of its nuclear assets and warns that the fear of a nuclear conflict with India remains a key concern in Washington.
The new policy also insists that Pakistan take action against militants on its soil and intensify its counterterrorism efforts if it wants to continue its partnership with the United States.
In a reference to the alleged presence of militant hideouts inside Fata, the Trump administration says: “We will insist that Pakistan take decisive action against militant and terrorist groups operating from its soil” as the United States “continues to face threats from transnational terrorists and militants operating from within Pakistan.”
- ○ 61 killed, at least 165 injured as militants storm police training centre in Quetta
○ Murderous attack on school in Peshawar, 141 killed (132 children) – terrorists crossed AfPak border