Farooq Yousaf

Farooq Yousaf

The author is a PhD (Politics) Candidate currently pursuing his studies in Australia. He has previously completed his Masters in Public Policy and Conflict Studies from Germany. He also consults Islamabad-based Security think tank, Centre for Research and Security Studies, and occasionally writes for various news and media sources. He is specialising in Indigenous conflict resolution and counter insurgency. He tweets at @faruqyusaf (twitter.com/faruqyusaf?lang=en)

Is the New Silk Road really an economic corridor for China and Pakistan?

While the world is busy tackling the ISIS and its look-alikes in the Middle East, China, on the other hand, has other plans to chase. One such plan is reviving the centuries old Silk Route, or the New Silk Road – a series of routes that were important in the past for cultural interactions and trade between the East and the West. As part of this revival, China recently announced working on a high speed train from Lanzhou to Urumqi, capital of the troubled Xinjiang province. It is also rumoured that the train may, in future, reach out to regional states including Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Turkey, along with ...

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ISIS and the cycle of open-ended US strikes

A Pentagon official, soon after launching an offensive against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Khorasan, and the al Qaeda in Syria, said, “Islamic State battle could take years”. This was the first instance when the United States “officially” intervened in Syria using Islamic State’s preamble. And with that, Syria became the seventh predominantly Muslim country to be attacked by a Nobel laureate – US President Barack Obama. This latest campaign boasts fighter jets, especially the problem laden F-22 Raptor, tomahawk cruise missiles, drones and bombers. The United States is also joined by five other Arab states – namely United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan ...

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Is the ISIS really in our backyard?

One day, you see shalwar-kameez clad Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters in Iraq and Syria, and the next day you hear news of their fighters infiltrating Pakistan. Is there any connection? According to the Foreign Office (FO) of Pakistan there isn’t. Obviously. The FO, on Wednesday, denied reports regarding the presence and infiltration of ISIS, also known as ‘Daesh’, in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and FATA region. But did this denial ring any surprising bells? After all, the same FO, along with the authorities, was oblivious to Osama bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad for many years, leave aside the ISIS. Yet, one has to ...

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The curious case of drone strikes in FATA

Peter Bergen – a US security expert on drones, militancy and Af-Pak relations – recently revealed that the United States may have finally ended its drone programme in FATA, Pakistan. At least, this is how the media in Pakistan showed its surprise. But Bergen was careful in his words and thus indicated towards a hold in these strikes and how it could, eventually, lead towards a total halt. Bergen, an author and a journalist who also heads the International Security Programme at the New America Foundation, has for long been tracking and reporting on the US drone strikes. Thus, with his experience and background, his revelation could not ...

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Previously ‘The Arab Spring’, now ‘The Faulty Revolution Bandwagon’

I was once asked by my professor to give a few examples of modern day revolutions. Without pondering for a fraction of a second, I quoted the famous Arab Spring which included a change of regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya along with a bloody civil war which is still in progress in Syria. The Arab Spring was an inspiration to many including myself both, in and outside the Middle East. So inspired was I that I even wrote a blog a couple of years ago praising the revolution and change in Egypt which resulted from the Arab Spring. However, it was not ...

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Will Crimea’s ‘strategic importance’ cost Putin his political future?

The moment you log on to an international news channel nowadays, two stories frequently flash on your screens: the missing Malaysian airplane and Crimea – the climax of the Ukrainian crisis. Although the agonising search for the debris of flight MH370 seems to be in its final stages with the latest Australian revelations, the Crimean crisis is still far from over. In the wake of the latest developments, the Russian State Duma has approved the treaty of making Crimea a part of Russia. The US, EU and the West called it an act of aggression, Mr Gorbachev called it a ‘Soviet era mistake corrected’, the Chinese remained mum and the Russians called ...

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Can Vladimir Putin pull off the Winter Olympics safely?

A couple of deadly bomb blasts in Volgograd in two days killing 30, coupled with disastrous floods in Far Eastern Russia were enough for the Russian President Vladimir Putin to change his years-old ritual of addressing the nation on New Year’s Eve from the Kremlin. For us Pakistanis, such events have become so common that even a series of blasts on festivals such as Eid may hardly affect our routine – as long as we don’t suffer directly. But for Russia, these events, especially the blasts, are national tragedies. Timing of the Volgograd bombings Russia is nearly a month away from holding the much awaited Winter Olympics ...

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Is it time for Pakistan to reconsider the US as its ally?

Close to 50,000 deaths, over $100 billion in losses, and growing insecurity and fear among the citizens with each passing day. These are few of the highlights of Pakistan’s involvement in the US-led war on terror that has now been fought for more than 12 years.  This war which was initiated to target the militants in Afghanistan has haunted and continues to haunt, many innocent civilians, not only in Afghanistan but also in Pakistan. The United States, along with its allies, began this war to hunt down the 9/11 mastermind, Osama bin Laden and to put an end to the Taliban regime and its activities. However, in ...

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US-Afghanistan withdrawal: Can Pakistan survive without NATO money?

With September 2014 fast approaching, all eyes are fixed on Afghanistan and the announced withdrawal of the United States-led coalition forces. Although the Afghan Loya Jirga has asked President Karazai to sign the peace deal with the US, a majority of the contingents are scheduled to leave by the end of 2014. This mass military exodus from Afghanistan will shift the burden of security responsibility onto the Afghan army and police. It is hard to predict whether the Afghan forces will able to cope with the post-withdrawal security situation or not. Yet the withdrawal will surely have a negative economic impact – ...

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Who poisoned Yasser Arafat?

In November 2012, when forensic teams exhumed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s remains for examination, few expected such a shocking outcome; an outcome that would not only shake the world, but also possibly put a severe dent in the already stalled Palestinian peace process. According to the investigation reports, there were indications that Yasser Arafat may have been poisoned (with Polonium), and thus, previous claims of his natural death were refuted. Arafat died after his health severely deteriorated in his compound in Ramallah, in 2004, where more than 250 Palestinian leaders and officials were besieged and bombarded by the Israeli forces. The mysterious nature of Arafat’s death always ...

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