Trump’s Pakistan Problem

The Trump administration has recently cut almost all security aid to Pakistan, eliminating the already delayed $255m military aid which Pakistan has been anticipating for the better part of 2017 – citing that the country has “failed to deal with terrorist networks operating on its soil”.

The Relationship
From its inception the US-Pakistan relationship was that of convenience. The United States for its part was amongst the first nations to establish diplomatic relations with the new state of Pakistan in 1947 mainly because of the Pro-American and Pro-Capitalist Pakistan Muslim League (PML) that governed Pakistan’s most prosperous Punjab province. Having endured gaining independence from Britain and the horrors of partition from India, it was natural for Pakistan to ally with the United States as its rival India would side with the Soviet Union. United States for its part found strategic partners in Pakistan military dictators. Beginning from General Ayub Khan, who in return for US military aid allowed the first spy missions to the Soviet Union resulting in the 1960 U-2 incident capture of Gary powers.

United States found Ayub’s successor General Yahya Khan an integral partner in the bulwark against Communism when Indian backed East Pakistan (present day Bangladesh) declared Independence in 1971, the United States fearing Soviet backed-India to be the de-facto power in the subcontinent, secretly encouraged the shipment of military equipment from the Shah’s Iran into Pakistan. The defeat of the Pakistan military and the loss of East Pakistan to its emergence in independent Bangladesh remains an open wound in the psyche of the Pakistan military. In return for past US support, Pakistan Military authorized secretly to open the path to the 1972 Nixon visit to its close ally China leading to the normalization of relations between US and China.
The US-Pakistan relationship began to show its deficits following the election of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. He was a vociferous but charismatic leader who was Oxford-educated,  democratically elected; and, not backed by the military. It was Bhutto’s warming up to Soviet Union and his obsession with developing nuclear weapons that scarred his relationship with the United States so when the Pakistan military and its General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq commanded a coup against him, the approval from Washington was not slow.

When the Soviet Army invaded Afghanistan in 1979, United States now had a reason to work with General Zia-ul-Haq through “Operation Cyclone” to make Afghanistan the Soviet Union’s Vietnam. Covert aid was provided by the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates while the execution and cash control of the operation would be implemented by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Through arming, training and funding of both moderate and radical factions of the Mujahedeen, many who were Afghan refugees and from tribes of Pakistan’s rural northern provinces which centuries old Afghan tribal links, the covert operation paid off. After 1986, the tide turned towards these Mujahedeen groups. Al-Qaeda arrived at his time and so did Osama Bin laden; building partnerships with many of these militant groups through Saudi Intelligence and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The Mujahedeen, with assistance from the ISI, managed shelters at the northern, western, and southern borders of Pakistan and were now winning against the Soviet Army resulting in their defeat and withdrawal in February 1989. The Mujahedeen groups left such a brutal legacy after the war where provincial Afghan towns, cities, and eventually Kabul were all under attack and ransacked by feuding Mujahedeen Warlords as each militant group battled the other for control.

With the Soviet Union no longer a threat, the United States lost interest in state-building or any reconstruction in Afghanistan while Pakistan’s ISI reaped the rewards of an intermediary, forming strategic relationships with Mujahedeen groups resulting and using them as a quality asset. So, when the Taliban was victorious in getting rid of the Mujahedeen warlords, they did so with the blessings of the ISI. Afghanistan now was a client state. With its western borders secure, Pakistan’s military could now concentrate on their eastern front in its battle with India over the province of Kashmir; using some of the United States funding that had provided for the Afghan war effort that would be diverted by ISI to assist radical extremist and violent groups to battle the Indian Army.

Pakistan’s U-turn Strategy

With democratically elected Pakistani governments coming and going for much of the 1990s, the Pakistan’s military again staged another coup. The International community was against recognizing General Pervez Musharaf as the new leader of Pakistan but after the horrors of 9/11 all that would change. Pakistan suddenly found itself being warned by their former ally; the United States, to assist in the removal of the Afghan Taliban, a group the Pakistan military had groomed for nearly half a decade.

Pakistan military General Pervez Musharaf needed the United States to make his recent coup against the democratically elected government of Nawaz Sharif to be legitimate. He also wanted to remove Pakistan from the US and UN sanctions imposed on them for their new status as a nuclear-armed state and badly needed economic assistance to revive Pakistan’s economy. In return Pakistan would assist the US military and NATO through intelligence and logistics cooperation in Operation Enduring Freedom. However, privately amongst Musharaf’s cabinet; some military Generals believed that immediate safe havens for its asset, the Taliban in Pakistan’s northern, western and southern borders though temporarily would be a key strategy until the United States and their allies leave Afghanistan.

Through the Coalition Support Fund, the United States has paid to date approximately $8.6 billion (initially promised $18 billion) to the Pakistan Military for its assistance in the war effort in Afghanistan and for the use of two of its airports in Shamsi Airfield and Dalabandin in Pakistani Baluchistan. Pakistan was promised $1.5 billion annually from 2001 onwards but in the very first year that did not happen.

The Decline

In 2009 the Kerry-Luger Bill proposed $1.5 billion in annual assistance to Pakistan that was not transferred due to the significant differences between the Obama administration’s policy of US drone strikes in Pakistan’s air-space and policy on Indian Administered Kashmir. Future aid packages would require that Pakistan’s military not obstruct or interfere in elected civilian government. This enraged Pakistan’s military who until now had been able to control much of Pakistan’s defense and foreign policy in partnership with the elected civilian government but suddenly found the United States to actively work against their own interests. The relationship took a bitter turn for the absolute worst when a secret operation conducted by US Navy Seals in Abbottabad, Pakistan led to the finding and death of Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011. Under an intelligence assessment Bin-Laden’s Abbottabad home was at a close proximity to a Pakistan military academy adding to suspicions that perhaps the Pakistan military had known all along not just his whereabouts but perhaps even had assisted him in some unknown capacity.

Six years on, the US-Pakistan relationship is stagnant. Pakistan has slowly edged away to China to seek the benefits of military and economic aid. China is already involved in several Pakistan infrastructure projects. With Trump taking a confrontational tone to Pakistan there is little hope in this US administration where the relationships can be normalized. But if not Pakistan, which country can take the role to battle the militancy to find a political solution? Russia, China, or India. All are potentially able but lack the historical relationships that only Pakistan provides.

Why Pakistan is hesitant

For US military with significant engagements in Iraq from 2003 onwards, Afghanistan was not a priority but by 2008 a resurgent Taliban was making gains and even with an additional 48,500 troops the US military was unable to stop their advances in other provinces. By December 2009, President Obama sent more troops bringing the total to 100,000. But while Afghanistan saw a surge in violence so did Pakistan. The Pakistan military for the majority of its relationship through the Pashtun tribal elders was successful as events in Afghanistan unfolded to hold them to keep their promises to not fight against the US and NATO forces but from 2007 onwards this became a difficulty. Suddenly factions of fighters were splitting from the main umbrella groups that formed the Taliban. Revolting against tribal elders, sometimes even assassinating them-these factions were now forming alliances with other groups to take on even the Pakistan.

Army and the Pakistan state.

One of the reasons this happened was because in 2002 when the Pakistan military under the insistence of the US government, conducted incursions into South Waziristan and neighboring tribal areas to originally combat foreign militants fleeing from the war in Afghanistan into the neighboring tribal areas of Pakistan. After some fighting, the Pakistan military came to a settlement with key tribal elders to advise militants against attacks on US and NATO forces. However, in 2006 a U.S. missile strike in Bajaur, accidentally killing school children in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas was noted by Pakistan military analysts as a key factor in the rise of tribal militancy resulting in the formation of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and other militant groups.

This makes the present circumstances extremely complicated for the present Pakistan civilian government that has been rocked by the resignation of its own Prime Minister due to the Panama papers and at the same time convincing the Pakistan military to take on not just its own ally but formerly one of CIA’s main asset during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. The Haqqani network unlike other Pakistan military assets is by far a more organized, heavily armed, well-funded, large in numbers and command huge support of tribes from both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border (Haqqani Nexus and the Evolution of Al Qaeda*). The fear is just as Pakistan military has seen some of its own assets turn into militant groups and turn against them, it simply cannot afford to take on the might of the Haqqani network. Perhaps Pakistan’s military still believes that it needs all its assets to handle what will be left by US and NATO forces after they leave Afghanistan. No different from when the Soviet army left to have Pakistan military to clean up the mess.

* Source: Combating Terror Center at West Point

Written By Fazle Chowdhury


Rossella: The Black List

IG TODAYRossella turns fresh news from trusted sources into scheduled tweets. According to research, 80% of tweets should be news and content that informs, educates and entertains while 20% should be sales, promotions, and information about your brand. Rossella helps customers get the 80%-AUTOMATICALLY.
Where do we get our tweets? We utilize RSS feeds, machine learning, and our proprietary algorithm to find tweets by topic from trusted sources. The Rossella List is a complete list of the sources we allow to be used on the Rossella platform.
The White List–media outlets banned from Rossella–was introduced yesterday. The media outlets on Rossella’s Black List are below.
Email to inquire about adding your media or blog RSS feed to Rossella.
Rossella Black List
American Scientist
BBC News
Black Enterpise
Bon Appetit
CBS News
Chicago Reader
Cooking Channel TV
Cosmos Magazine
Der Speigel
Draft Mag
ELLE Magazine
Food and Wine
Harvard Business Review
Herald Sun
IN Style
Industry Week
Jims Loire
Los Angeles Times
New York Daily News
Perez Hilton
Popular Mechanic
Popular Science
Rotten Tomatoes
Search Engine Land
Star Tribune
Teen Vogue
The Brew Enthusiast
The Economist
The Guardian
The Guardian US
The Independent
The Miami Herald
The New York Times
The Wall Street Journal
The Washington Post
US Magazine
We Are Brew Studs
Wine and Mag
Wine Curmudgeon
Wine Pages
Wine Spectator

Sneak Peak: A Discussion of the Paradise Papers, Taxes, and Millennials

I sat down with finance expert, management consultant, and lecturer, Fazley “Faz” Chowdhury, for a discussion of the Paradise Papers, GOP tax plans, money laundering, and the impact on the Millennial generation. Here are a few segments from the interview. We will be releasing the entire interview (55 minutes) later this week.

What Are the Paradise Papers?

Millennials, Corporations, and Globalizaiton

Thinksgiving: Think Twice About Buying Organic

Organic, farm-to-table, free-range, locally sourced…there is a lot of new marketing language for food. Marketers are gonna market. What does “organic” really mean? Financially, we pay more for organic foods. Look at this little gem I received from Amazon/Washington Post/Whole Foods:

whole foods.png

Technically, anything living is organic. We can go a step further and say any carbon-based life form is “organic”. This isn’t the end of the discussion, though. We should probably refer to some impartial authority. Perhaps the United States Food and Drug Administration has made a ruling on what food can carry the label “organic”.

image (1)
Source: Google

What does the FDA have to say about labeling organic foods? Nothing. In fact, the FDA’s website explicitly states that “[t]he term organic is not defined by law or regulations enforced by the FDA.”


Whole Foods is charging 50% more per pound for organic turkeys. For example, you would end up paying an extra $10 for a 10 pound “organic” turkey. This “deal” doesn’t smell so good. This Thanksgiving, let’s be grateful and think first before we grab organic–we are very likely just paying more for a word.

10,000 Budgets

The Holiday are coming! A budget is a plan for your money. Spending typically increases during the holidays; yet, only 60% of people have a budget (plan). I usually save my “create a budget” marketing for the New Year but I’d rather people get the benefit now.

Thus, SpendCast is launching the 10,000 Budgets project. Our goal is to reduce prices on all of our budgeting apps during the holiday season until at least 10,000 budgets have been created. Tis’ the season to give! So–yes–there will be free downloads. Stay tuned! We will also have specials on Veteran’s Day and Black Friday. Yes, you just might spend a little more money for the holidays. SpendCast wants you to Know Before You Spend!

90% Off All SpendCast Apps in the Google Play Store



Interview with Tech Show TV about Rossella

K. Alexander Ashe at Tech Show TV’s Studio

It’s a wrap! Finished taping a segment Saturday at the Tech Show TV’s studio in Alexandria, VA with amazing host Stacey Rusch.  The interview discussed on Rossella helps business owners save time tweeting, engage their audience, and fight fake news. Huge shout out goes to to @helpareporter. I used the service to get book the interview. Thanks @helpareporter! The segment will air on the Tech Show on AMGTV the week of 11/27/2017.


I snapped a photo with the amazing host, Stacey Rusch, after filming.




What is Rossella?

I started a company that built personal finance apps and years later I found myself managing a few brands. I established a social media presence for the brands on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I had a team of bloggers, a graphic designer, and a developer but I wanted to expand SpendCast’s social media presence.

Social media planning for Twitter that engages and grows and audience focuses on sharing information and news that is relevant to your audience 80% of the time. Branding may be about 10–20% of what is shared with the audience. I spent hours a week looking for meaningful content to share.

First, I thought about hiring a person or firm to manage our social media accounts. Around that time, RSS was dying a quick death. Google Reader took a dirt nap in 2013…but I wondered if the technology could still prove useful. Many media companies still regularly publish new articles and media using RSS feeds. Some of the feeds are not super-dependable as they may get replaced. Yet, I figured that I could use RSS feeds to save a little time.

I developed an algorithm that parses RSS feeds to find fresh news and then schedule it as a tweet. Several companies have done this before in different ways. Hootsuite allows you to use RSS feeds and Twitter Lists to schedule tweets. However, I only to use tweets that fit the topic of my account. For @spendcast, news articles about Millennials, personal finance, and economics. For @blueapexdigital, articles about small business, design, social media, and marketing.

Rossella enabled me to curate topical twitter feeds that engaged and grew my audience. I started using Rossella for myself in late 2015 and got working on an alpha version. Lean startup FTW! The results were great. I save a lot of time and more than double my Twitter followers on multiple accounts. The number of account followers grew by 11%-50% month-over-month from December 2015 to December 2016.


The next phase was to test an alpha version so I reached out to entrepreneurs, created custom Rossella tools and asked for feedback. Chris Brock, our fantastic graphic designer, visualized the quotes of the feedback.

Rossella Alpha Testing Feedback

In short, Rossella turns fresh news into tweets. The name comes from the use of RSS technology (RoSSella) as well as the fact that a rossella is a parrot. Rossella Beta will be launching soon. However, the 2016 election showed me that Rossella could have value beyond social media curation.

The 2016 Election revealed a problem with fake news proliferated by trolls and bots. Fake news is a pipeline problem wherein bots and trolls pump misinformation into the system — creating a cesspool. Rossella will help fight fake news by empowering people to share timely news and information from trusted and verified sources. Sorry (not sorry)— Drudge Report, Redstate, Breitbart, and Fox News will have no place on the Rossella platform. Check out a free demo on the website →

Op-Ed: Education system overhaul should include new emphasis on financial literacy

Published by Tribune News Service

As Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos sets out to reform America’s underperforming public schools, let’s hope she puts their appalling lack of personal finance instruction near the top of her priority list. Our nation’s high schools are flunking badly when it comes to imbuing their students with the key elements of financial literacy.

A 2016 study by the Council for Economic Education found that only 17 states require high school students to take courses in personal finance. That’s particularly distressing when you consider that the final year of high school is, for many young people, the last great opportunity to acquire financial literacy before entering today’s costly, complex and rapidly changing world.

Personal finance courses don’t require teachers with advanced degrees. Almost any teacher who can balance a checkbook can follow some already successful course guidelines to impart financial basics to graduating seniors.

“To be successful, most kids don’t need to learn about collateralized debt instruments, but they do need to know how to open a bank account, how much they need to save each month to reach their goals and, if they borrow this amount of money, how much money they will need to earn to pay it back,” said Nan J. Morrison, president and CEO of the Council for Economic Education, in an interview with CNBC following the report’s release.

She and other personal finance advocates are responsible for many of the recent gains made in the establishment of what some call “everyday economics” in high school classrooms. In 1998, only 14 states required that high schools give their seniors a rudimentary knowledge of personal finance. Now 37 states do, meaning more students are receiving finance lessons in their civics and math classes.

And over the last few years, populous states like New York and Illinois have toughened standards. Washington state has new legislation doing the same. But while more states are implementing personal finance standards, the number of states that require high school students to take an actual course in personal finance — 17 — has remained unchanged since 2014, according to the study. That’s truly unfortunate. The states with the most rigorous personal finance requirements send their students on to college and into the real world with a measureable head start.

Data recently released by the Investor Education Foundation show high school students who passed mandatory personal finance courses have better-than-average credit scores and lower debt delinquency rates as young adults. The IEF study found “notable improvements” in credit outcomes for young adults ages 18-22 in three states — Idaho, Georgia and Texas — where financial education mandates are considered rigorous by the Council for Economic Education.

Personal finance courses provide an important leg-up to students in low-income areas with lagging schools. A key driver of the perpetuation of poverty is that young people in economically challenged areas are often unemployed or underemployed and find themselves at the mercy of loan sharks and payday loans with stratospheric interest rates.

Hemmed in by poverty, recent graduates in these communities find themselves struggling to pay bills and manage what little money they have. As Morrison told CNBC: “Exposure is everything. When you learn good habits, you tend to have better outcomes.”

About The Writer

K. Alexander Ashe is the CEO and founder of Spendcast, a tech firm that develops finance-focused apps. Readers may email him at

2017 Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.